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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang

I do not understand how you could feel such loyalty for a hologram.

When holodeck character Vic gets into trouble, Starfleet comes to the rescue in an improbable episode.

Stardate 52575.5.

Today the unthinkable happened when ship's favorite Vic Fontaine, a holodeck character in one of Quark's grubby little holosuites, was attacked by a surprise program in the form of Frankie Eyes, who, accompanied by his friend Cheech, issued a terrible ultimatum: pack up and leave.

(voice over comms) Oh my deity. Did he go?

Why, of course not. Vic isn't that much of a wimp, even if he is a musician. He called his non-holodeck friends in to help out.

(voice over comms) A holodeck asking for help? Who'd do that?

Well, apparently the entire bridge crew of Deep Space Nine.

(voice over comms) Huh.

In costume.

(voice over comms) Was there singing?

Not this time. It's as if, when faced with fighting the most dire universal evils, bridge crews become addicted to adopting another identity. In this case, the identities of mafiosos, in a sweet homage to the mob films I used to watch from age 8-12 during hot summers without air conditioning. They have no choice but to dress up: not only is Vic being targeted by a jack-in-the-box (which from my limited understanding of the Trektalk is basically a sort of temporary and essentially harmless internal virus), this jack-in-the-box can only be solved by a period-specific 1900's mobster-style solution. In other words, no phasers, no science, only role play.

(voice over comms) And they went with it rather than using science and technology to surgically reprogram the holodeck? Yeah, that sounds like Starfleet, too sentimental for our own good.

It makes for a really FUN story! The thing about this cast, it's a cast of actors. I've remarked before that occasionally Deep Space Nine has a Broadway feel, and generally Star Trek has a long history of excellent acting behind it: this episode is a rare chance to see that quality shine.

(voice over comms) But the story doesn't make much sense.

That's WHY it's so delicious. It's human and wonderful to want to preserve a relationship you've developed with a program and if you think about it from the perspective of a salesman like Quark, it makes absolute sense to have something like a jack-in-the-box to force that connection so you keep a customer coming back for more. After that? The speed with which Sisko and the rest get into costume is matched only by the speed with which Kira changes hers.

(voice over comms) I guess even a station crew needs a break sometime.

In the end pretty much every character gets their own cameo of fun in this episode. There's a somewhat serious semi-B plot, in which Sisko and Kasidy argue due to Kasidy supporting Vic and wanting to find a way to save Vic, and Sisko feeling untouched by the needs and sorrows of a hologram. Eventually, Kasidy and Sisko reconcile, which results in Sisko getting over his resentment of Vic's program – and Sisko also joins in the fun as a Deep Pockets rife for the fleecing, in a nifty costume of his own. He owns the role, but it took a long time to get him over the struggle he was going through.

(voice over comms) I'm afraid to ask.

Well, actually, that part turned out to lead to a deeper topic which I feel the show handled well. Sisko has a deep understanding of oppression and racism on Earth. Due to this knowledge, he can identify the era meant to be portrayed in Vic's bar – I'd say the early 1900s – and the program itself shares the location of the bar. Sisko knows that historically, such bars wouldn't let Black men enter. Yet here is this holosuite program just throwing that out and letting all the races mingle. He feels that entering such a location is tantamount to erasing the reality of the experience of racism and especially racism against Black people.

Kasidy, on the other hand, is saying that this is just a pleasant fiction, a dream that the community of their time has about what the community of long-ago Earth should have had, and reminds them of the kind of worlds they can build today. Is it a convincing argument? As someone who's worked for years in the field of Social Justice: I don't know. I can say that sometimes priorities don't nest the same way all the time. Sometimes you need self-care, and dreaming, and hope that Kasidy promises; sometimes you need the harshness of reality, and that it makes sense that Sisko holds so hard onto reality, given his character. I can say this episode portrays the balance between the two, very well. Bernice Jonson Reagon talked about how activists need both the safe space, where they are alone with other activists, and the brave space, where they need to mingle with people from the rest of the world. In many ways this episode reminds me of her argument.

(voice over comms) I really like Penny Johnson.

She's a fantastic actress, and it must be tough to keep up with someone like Sisko. I think they work as a couple, however, and always have.

Gears and Phasers

(voice over comms) What were your favorite moments in the episode?

Well, there was this delicious outfit Kira was wearing:

And here's a close-up of those lovely dangly danglies:

Here's Nog as a police officer, along with Ezri as a showgirl, and taking absolute delight in it:


This was a blast of an episode. I was worried it would not be as good on the second watch, but it made me laugh – and it gives us a breath of air after some heavy moments in the series. Five out of five holodeck characters gone sentient.

1 comment:

  1. This is the most fun episode of the show since the TNG cast met Robin Hood. And for me it's Ezri's costume that's stealing the show.


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