Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Whispers   Rewatch 
August 18, 2015 12:24 AM - Season 2, Episode 14 - Subscribe

O'Brien notices odd goings on aboard the station.
posted by Solomon (9 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Memory Alpha link.

This kind of episode was the Next Generation's bread and butter. That was a show where the cool sci-fi plots usually came first and the characters (lovable though they were) usually came second. There were a lot of episodes where Geordi or Crusher or whoever was coming home from some conference and then when they got to the Enterprise something was weird but nobody believed them. It was great stuff in its own way, but DS9 had richer characters and their plots tended to reflect that. In this one we see DS9 do a classic TNG sort of plot, but the difference in approach is interesting. Check out this dialogue excerpt from Memory Alpha, when Bashir is subjecting a very irritated O'brien to a physical:

O: "Are you nearly finished? I believe you poked into every orifice in my body... and created a few new ones."
B: "Any dizziness? Oversleeping? Lack of energy? Euphoria?"
O: "Yes! All of them, especially euphoria! Lots of euphoria!"
B: "Seriously."
O: "Look, if you are determined to keep me here until you find something wrong with me, I'll see if I can't grow you a hangnail!"
B: "Eye problems? Hearing? Headaches?"
O: "Headache! There you go. In fact, I'm getting a very bad one right now!"

Can you picture Dr. Crusher having an exchange like that with anybody on the Enterprise? I haven't seen the episode in 10 years or so, and I can totally hear those lines in O'brien and Bashir's voices. It feels different from a TNG version of this plot because the TNG characters were relatively uncomplicated heroes and O'brien and the rest of the DS9 crew feel more like real, complicated people. When Keiko and Molly are acting weird and distant, it's disturbing in a way that it wouldn't be if Crusher noticed Wesley was acting weird and distant. And O'brien is rather moody and unpredictable himself, and we have to worry that he's going to get emotional and get himself in trouble. He's a man with a temper, as that medical exam scene certainly reminds us. He's scrappy on a NORMAL day!

The twist at the end is a good one, and again, it's the kind of twist they easily could have pulled on TNG. But there is a pathos here that wouldn't be as strong if this story was about Will Riker. This replicant has established himself as being very much the O'brien we know, and when he gasps his dying words, asking the others to tell Keiko he loves her, we know what those words mean to him. This isn't quite Miles O'brien dying, but it's close enough.

(I'm not knocking TNG. I mean, I've seen every episode a gazillion times. But they are surprisingly different shows, given how they were two shows in the same franchise, made at the same by many of the same people.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:19 AM on August 18, 2015 [9 favorites]

This is one that I either missed when it aired or forgot about.

On rewatch, in the middle of the episode Mr. creepygirl said, "I bet the explanation for all the other characters' weirdness is going to be really dumb," and I agreed.

We were wrong--the explanation made perfect sense. Unfortunately the ending really kind of sucked. The writers created universe-altering technology (a way to create a duplicate of a person with all that person's memories) and had no idea to do with that, or the duplicate, so they wrapped it up with the dupe getting conveniently shot by someone. I'm not a fan of plot-convenient suicide, either, but at least that would have given duplicate O'Brien some agency at the end.
posted by creepygirl at 7:00 AM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really liked this episode until the end. Wish they'd taken the time to explore the ending more fully.

Also, from the Memory Alpha link:
There were some problems during the production of the episode, as Coyle recounts; "The episode came up short for one particular reason: we had to stick entirely on O'Brien for every minute. We couldn't cut away to any of the other characters because they'd obviously be saying, 'We don't think O'Brien is O'Brien.' So we could never open the story up for the audience and go to a B-story, or even linger on two characters after O'Brien leaves the room, because it'd be giving the story away."
posted by zarq at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Again- punitive bombing.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:13 PM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

And again, O'Brien. (This one didn't even make the O'Brien Must Suffer article posted in the last thread.)
posted by creepygirl at 5:21 PM on August 18, 2015

Actually, this one is really more of an "Um, yeah...we're obviously ruling in favor of the rebels, because they were the ones that didn't kidnap someone from a third party and replace him with an android to assassinate someone in the peace delegation." situation.

And if you have a problem with that, we're doing shakedown tests on a new "Defiant" class of starships you might be interested in.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:49 PM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Minor nitpick - why wouldn't Molly want to give replicant-O'Brien a kiss? I get that the writers wanted to show how replicant-O'Brien was feeling that everyone else was acting weird, but Molly was too young for Keiko or anyone to have let her in on the 'everybody just act normal' plan, so, there was no reason for her to draw back.

I didn't mind the abruptness of the ending, it was effectively brutal. Poor fake O'Brien.
posted by oh yeah! at 7:15 PM on August 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Interesting detail from Memory Alpha: Apparently they called the not-O'brien a replicant because they wanted to establish that he wasn't an android or a clone but they weren't sure what the heck he was, so they shrugged and went for the Blade Runner homage. This is the only time "replicants" were ever referenced in the Trek franchise.

Unfortunately the ending really kind of sucked

If you're thinking like that, any of the Trek shows are probably going to be endlessly frustrating for you. In other episodes they've recreated people's younger bodies from transporter patterns and done all kinds of stuff that would be huge, huge news if they incorporated it into the continuity. As I pointed out in the Duet thread, there's really no reason for Marritza to die of a simple stab wound given the kind of medical technology (and the genetic superman doctor) that's available on DS9. But Marritza died for the same reason not-O'brien did: that was the most dramatic ending. It's nice when a really airtight plot comes along, but you could easily poke holes in almost any fiction if you were determined to do it.

(None of which is meant to call you out as a nit-picker or anything. Just to say that sometimes we kind of have to shrug and accept some iffy stuff, for the sake of enjoying a show.)

Minor nitpick - why wouldn't Molly want to give replicant-O'Brien a kiss?

There are a number of possible reasons. She may have sensed on some primal level that he wasn't her daddy. Or Keiko may have told her something, either a lie or some version of the truth. We don't know. It depends on what Starfleet would recommend, or what Keiko thought was safest. She may have said something like, "There's a man here who looks like Daddy, but we're not sure if he is Daddy. So I need you to just act like he's Daddy, OK?" And Molly, being a little kid, didn't do a very good job of it. For all we know there was a camera hidden in their quarters and everybody in Ops was observing, ready to beam Keiko and Molly out of there if the not-O'brien showed any signs of being dangerous.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:29 PM on August 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

I feel like this is another one of the lead ins to the Dominion. Infiltration, deception and paranoia, coming from the Gamma quadrant.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:45 AM on August 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

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