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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Prodigal Daughter

"To my sister. A shining angel in a dark sky."

By nature I love brevity: There's a good episode in here and some of it is quite moving and well-observed. In the end, though, it's either too understated for the dramatic nature of the material or too dramatic for the understated tone. Nice to see some more Ezri background, though.

Admittedly, I have always had a soft spot for this episode. I quite like Ezri, and I relished the chance to see some of her backstory. It's not the most polished episode, nor is it super exciting, but there's some good stuff here.

Easily the best material mainly revolves around Ezri's mother Yanas, played skillfully by Leigh Taylor-Young. It's a tad over-the-top, but Young fills the role with such a presence that you can feel the overbearing nature of her relationship with Ezri viscerally from even just a subspace call at the start of the episode. This is a solid episode for Nicole DeBoer, too, who plays off of the actors playing her family members like she's known them for many years. There's burdened and loyal older brother Janel, played by a solid if slightly dull Mikael Salazar, and Norvo (Kevin Rahm), a struggling misunderstood artist who could never live up to his older siblings in his mother's eyes – or his own. It's Young and DeBoer that get the best scenes here, as Norvo's plight is clearly the main thrust of the episode, but it doesn't get the development it needs to really take off. Janel has a bit of a thankless role, but there are a few interesting bits in his material.

There's an odd disconnect here between the intimate family drama of the Tigans welcoming a returning daughter who's been joined since the last time she was home, and the criminal intrigue of O'Brien's involvement. The storyline from last season's "Honor Among Thieves" returns as Miles investigates the disappearance of his late friend Bilby's wife. It's a bit of an unsatisfying followup, as Morica Bilby doesn't even appear, and we're told about her unceremonious death. We grew to care about her husband, and her by extension, back in "Honor Among Thieves," and here she just gets jettisoned without a second thought. Miles seems to get over it pretty quickly, too, spending most of the episode worrying about how Sisko's going to kill him for doing this without permission. Either way, the effectiveness of both stories is blunted by their juxtaposition. The murder mystery really isn't that interesting given the limited number of candidates, so the family stuff and the crime stuff end up mostly stepping all over each other.

Still, there are a number of really nice scenes here. In fact, there's probably not a one of them that doesn't work for me in the moment. It's when you put them all together that something gets a little bit lost. But some of the scenes between Ezri and Norvo are genuinely touching. It helps that the whole family has a great chemistry together, which makes their scenes flow smoothly.

Ultimately, "Prodigal Daughter" may be less than the sum of its parts. But it's worth watching for the bits of Ezri backstory we get, the solid performances, and the really nice scene to scene work.

Strange New Worlds:

Today we visited Sappora VII, the home of the Tigan family's mining business headquarters. It's a planet in the Sappora system, which also contains the planet New Sydney.

New Life and New Civilizations:

We didn't learn a whole ton about Trills here, but we do see another side of how they live far from their homeworld. Ezri's family doesn't know a whole lot about being joined, and there are a few things they were taken aback by about Ezri's experience.


-There are some really nice establishing matte shots here. I had forgotten just how good DS9 got at those. I miss them, honestly; I think they have more character than the CGI ones.

-The coda to this episode is kind of weird and feels like a strange note to end on. It's unsettling, but not in the way that I think it's supposed to be.

-According to Memory Alpha, the Orion Syndicate part of the episode was always a part of its development. In fact, Ezri's return was compared to Michael Corleone's return to his family of mobsters in The Godfather.

-This episode is widely regarded by the production team as the weakest of the season, joining the ranks of season one's "Move Along Home," season two's "Rivals," season three's "Meridian," season four's "The Muse," season five's "Let He Who Is Without Sin," and season six's "Profit and Lace." Nicole DeBoer said Ira Steven Behr apologized to her about the episode after they wrapped it.

-It did, however, earn the show one of its four Emmy nods of the year, scoring a nomination for Best Art Direction.


Yanas: "You tell your commanding officer that your mother is a very difficult woman and that she refuses to look for Mr. O'Brien until you're allowed to return home."

Ezri: "Where's your report?"
Julian: "Oh, it's in there. It's the one with Captain Sisko's boot print on it."

Yanas: "What do you know about raising children?"
Ezri: "Actually, I have three — no, four lifetimes of memories about raising children."

Ezri: "I guess I just spent so many years dreaming of ways to get out of that house that I didn't see what was going on inside it."

3 out of 6 smiley face-d landscapes.
CoramDeo has love in his life. And it makes him stronger than you can possibly imagine.

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