Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Sound of Her Voice   Rewatch 
September 26, 2016 10:42 AM - Season 6, Episode 25 - Subscribe

The crew of the Defiant get to know a marooned Starfleet captain over subspace radio as they race against time to save her life... but they get a surprise once they reach her. And Quark struggles to answer the really important question about Kira and Odo's relationship: how does he make a profit off of it?

Quick, Memory Alpha is running out of tri-ox:

- Pam Pietroforte's original idea for this episode involved Sisko playing around with a subspace radio and accidentally picking up a transmission from a woman in 1940. Over time, they develop a relationship, although she doesn't know he's from the future, and eventually, they fall in love. As Ronald D. Moore explains, "It became a sweet, interesting story, but none of us could quite get a handle on how to make it work. Sisko already was involved with Kasidy, which complicated it, and we never found a way to do it."

- When auditioning women for the role of Lisa Cusak, the producers never actually saw any of the people auditioning, they simply listened to audio recordings of them, and picked Debra Wilson based purely on her voice. Director Winrich Kolbe didn't allow Debra Wilson to meet any of the regular cast until after filming was completed.

- Director Winrich Kolbe is extremely proud of this episode and what it reveals about the central characters: "How do you see the moon? You see it because something else, the sun, puts out light that illuminates it. And in "The Sound of Her Voice", a voice illuminates the characters on the USS Defiant. They go into themselves and bring out their own problems, their own baggage, and present them to the other person, so we see their reflections. To me, that's fascinating. It was a very deeply psychological show, because the characters don't know the person they're talking to. I wanted them to bare their souls, to have them tell us their inner feelings through this device of talking to an unknown, unseen person."

"Well... he looks happy."
"He should be... he's about to make his biggest profit of the year."

- Kira and Odo, about Quark

"The war changed us – pulled us apart... I want my friends in my life, because someday we're going to wake up and we're going to find that someone is missing from this circle. On that day, we're going to mourn, and we shouldn't have to mourn alone."

- O'Brien

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

- Jadzia Dax and Worf
posted by Halloween Jack (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
The crew has grown apart because of the war? Since when? If anything, I would criticize DS9 because the opposite has been true: the war has not affected life aboard the station in any observable way. DS9 is right on the front line, but you can forget there is a war as it’s been absent from many episodes. And really, the crew has grown closer and closer each season.

But the writers insist that everyone has grown distant from each other and this has been the case all along. So now, out of the blue, the crew is all cold to one another. Which was jarring. Who are these people I’ve never met before? They look like the old characters, but act like completely different people. Why is Sisko so rude to Kasidy all of the sudden? Maybe the Raktajino machine broke and the crew is suffering from severe caffeine withdrawal.

The writers wanted this mood so they could have O’Brien’s eulogy. And they wanted that eulogy so they can foreshadow Jadzia’s death in the finale. But, as with “Change of Heart”, the writers should have been confident that they developed Jadzia up enough over the years that we’d care about her death, without relying a build up where people act out of character.

The only believable part was O’Brien complaining about therapists to Cusak. After five years with Troi, I understand why he’d feel that way. The Cusak thing was hard to believe. Not the time anomaly—that’s standard Trek gobbledegook. No, what I couldn’t accept is that someone named Cusak could show that much emotion.
posted by riruro at 10:58 AM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yeesh, three stinkers in a row. I found Cusak's dialogue to be so grating - she was like the Exposition Fairy's lesser-known relative, the Emotional Labor Fairy. Like, they needed to do a bottle episode because the season is nearly over and presumably all the money and resources are being thrown into making the finale, and instead of doing a clip show they decided to do this sort of 'psychological snapshot' of the crew. Only none of it is particularly revealing or in character. And that act-break "oh no a monster ate me" fakeout? I hated that so much I was relieved they only found a corpse.
posted by oh yeah! at 1:01 PM on September 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


I actually liked this one a lot, because the premise was so neat. I really wasn't expecting the ending at all. But in some ways it actually feels more like a TNG episode premise.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:39 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I didn't think that this episode was bad, but I'll repeat something that I said in a comment for "The Reckoning": This episode could have been done in any of the Trek series, with minor modifications, mostly having to do with the particular issues for particular crew members and the B story, of course. It does have a neat premise, but it also feels shoehorned in and not really necessarily where the characters are now, per riruro. And, to reiterate another thing that I said in the linked comment above, "The Reckoning" really should have been the penultimate episode; this one is just too generically Trekky, and there have been some pretty heavy things that have gone on this season; the foreshadowing is obviously tacked on as an afterthought. (And, frankly, it feels a bit redundant to have a space funeral right before the one that really matters.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:52 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I recall liking this one... but now that I think of it, isn't it a little odd that nobody bothered to look up the records for Cusak's ship before they went to pick her up? It seems like they would have known the ship went missing three years ago. It also seems a little convenient if none of their conversations mentioned developments in the Dominion War or other things that would have clued everybody in that they were three years apart. If Cusack was from some previously-undiscovered or isolationist culture, these issues could have been totally avoided. This would have been a natural Voyager plot, where we wouldn't expect a new character to know anything about humanity. But for DS9 it probably took some very careful writing to not reveal that this human Starfleet captain was three years behind the headlines.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:06 PM on September 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


But for DS9 it probably took some very careful writing to not reveal that this human Starfleet captain was three years behind the headlines.

Thought the same thing on this rewatch. This, along with some of the chatting-with-Cusak scenes, makes the whole episode feel kinda contrived. Luckily we get solid performances from basically our whole cast.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:55 AM on September 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have less of a problem with the B-plot. Odo is different here, but is in love and such so it makes sense. Not a huge breach of his duty to let Quark get away this time. Quark's smuggling is never about trading in harmful goods; it's usually trying to move benign objects past arcane trade embargoes.

The thing that is annoying about this is Jake. Not the man. It's that the writers never knew what to do with Jake after deciding he wouldn't join Starfleet. Star Trek is about humans in Starfleet, not civilians. So Jake is always tagging along on others' stories instead of having his own.

It was a waste because Lofton was a good actor. You can watch how he improved his skills over time, which is not common with child actors. *cough* Will Wheaton *cough*
posted by riruro at 2:02 PM on September 27, 2016


Thanks for reminding me, the problem that I had with the B-plot is that I thought that Quark was trying to coax Jake into providing a distraction for him to do the deal if Odo wasn't busy.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:31 PM on September 27, 2016


Yeah, I remember thinking during this era that they weren't doing quite enough to sell the idea that Jake was a working writer. (It seemed sort of odd that he was already having success as a writer when he was just 18 or something. I know, that happens sometimes. But even really great writers tend to be stuck working on student newspapers or something at that age.) Maybe they should've had him going to college on Bajor or something. He probably could have been on the show just as much, and you wouldn't have had this feeling like he was just hanging around the station. He was too young to be a working writer, and too old to be a kid anymore. If they were going to sell the young writer thing, they needed to do something more there. (I guess the space vampire episode was an attempt to do that.) It could've been fun to see him working more as a cub reporter and bugging everybody for scoops on the war.

Still, he was always good to have around. He never felt false like poor Wesley Crusher or Alexander. At this point he felt like a real, complicated young man, and not like some super-genius wish fulfillment or a "cute kid" shoehorned in.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:53 PM on September 28, 2016 [3 favorites]


That Jake kept hanging around the station as a 'writer' once he was somewhat adult used to bother me, but then I remembered the Federation has essentially basic income, and it's probably actually quite common in that universe to have young, artistically inclined people just sort of hanging around, honing their craft, and I'd imagine the bar to publishing is also much lower, as hey, you don't need to pay them and the publishing space is unlimited.

I forget if it's in a future episode or a past one, but there is also a scene where Sisko has told Jake that he needs more life experience to really capture certain elements in his writing, and Jake says something about how there's no where better to capture a broad sample of life experiences than a major interstellar stopping point next to a wormhole to a distant part of the galaxy. I think this episode is just an example of that.
posted by neonrev at 3:54 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah- it's not the same as if he was just hanging around on the Enterprise or something, because plenty of civilians live on DS9.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:18 PM on September 29, 2016


I get all that, but since we didn't see much of Jake working it just gave this feeling like he was hanging around (and being kind of lonely now that Nog was gone). They did do some things to try to make it seem like he was busy working, but I never felt like they went far enough.

It would have been interesting to see him go too far as a young writer looking for experiences, becoming kind of a boozer ladies man or maybe getting drawn into some terrorist organization or something. But maybe that would've been too much of a departure from who Jake was, or it may have played into that awful stereotype about young men of color being irresponsible. Really, he probably should have become Jake "Scoops" Sisko of the Federation Times, kind of an endearingly over-earnest Jimmy Olsen type bugging everybody for info on the war. I think they should have run with that plot about Jake having a big scoop and arguing with his dad about freedom of the press vs. Federation security. It may have gotten a little preachy, but I suspect they could have made it work.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:52 PM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think that in addition to playing into ugly stereotypes, audiences would probably not enjoy watching a character they saw grow up be corrupted. As dark as the later seasons are, none of the main cast ever really lose their essential goodness for more than a little bit, which I think is a pretty core part of the show. I don't think it would have worked.

It would have been interesting to see him go too far as a young writer looking for experiences, becoming kind of a boozer ladies man or maybe getting drawn into some terrorist organization or something. But maybe that would've been too much of a departure from who Jake was, or it may have played into that awful stereotype about young men of color being irresponsible. Really, he probably should have become Jake "Scoops" Sisko of the Federation Times, kind of an endearingly over-earnest Jimmy Olsen type bugging everybody for info on the war. I think they should have run with that plot about Jake having a big scoop and arguing with his dad about freedom of the press vs. Federation security. It may have gotten a little preachy, but I suspect they could have made it work.

As for Jake "Video Games" "Scoops" Sisko, I think they tried that but just didn't have the time to dedicate to the character on an episode to episode basis to really make it work. Beyond the largely Jake focused "Nor the Battle to the Strong" last season, his career as a reporter and general writer exists in brief moments, usually in conjunction with other plot lines. He bothers Kira and Odo over station policy during the occupation of the station earlier this season, actually using a scoop in the form of knowing about an upcoming protest to surprise the two and cement a point about becoming complacent and collaborating. I forget when, but there's also a scene where Jake and his dad briefly spat over Jake writing an article including info he got just by being the captain's son.
I think they flirt at what you're getting at, and in an alternate universe there is the episode you describe (which I also think could work) instead of "Jake Sisko goes to a war, does not like it", but they just didn't have the time to fully develop that idea. He's usually a comedic B-plot kind of guy.
posted by neonrev at 8:02 PM on September 29, 2016


Yeah, I guess it IS really hard to picture Jake as a wild, troubled young artist, in the brig for some shady adventure with a space hooker or something. It makes me think that if Ron Moore was in charge of the show, that's definitely where they would've gone! But while the writing on BSG was dramatic, the characterization could be badly inconsistent. On DS9 we potentially lost out on some drama as Jake grew up, but we did get a Jake who always felt like Jake.

Bit of a digression, but as time goes by it's funny how nobody holds up BSG as "the best sci-fi EVAR" anymore. For the first few seasons people hailed it for its grit and risk-taking and it was often seen as a corrective for stuff like Trek. But I guess those last few seasons of BSG soured people so badly, that's all anybody remembers!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:14 PM on September 29, 2016


It's a tiny aside, but one thing I kept wondering about the B plot is what kind of allure a holoprogram about interwar Paris could possibly have for a Bajoran and a Bajoran-raised Changeling, both living 450 years later and neither of whom have (as far as I can remember) ever even been on Earth other than that time Odo was around for the admiral-staged coup. Aren't there some Bajor-themed romantic holoprograms that might actually have some relevance to the vast majority of visitors to Quark's? I get that they didn't want to have to do more exposition for some one-off thing, so I'm not particularly upset about it, but I do like it when they expand the show's universe a little by getting away from references that are immediate to viewers but don't actually make that much sense for the characters.
posted by Copronymus at 9:03 PM on July 10, 2018


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