Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Prodigal Daughter   Rewatch 
November 7, 2016 7:08 AM - Season 7, Episode 11 - Subscribe

A missing Chief O'Brien, a dead woman with Orion Syndicate connections, and a very dysfunctional family all combine to raise one compelling, urgent question: will Ezri get a halfway-decent character arc before the series ends?

I understand. You found paradise in the Alpha Quadrant, you had a good trade, you made a good living. The police protected you and there were courts of law. You didn't need a friend like me. But, now you come to me, and you say: "Memory Alpha, give me justice." But you don't ask with respect. You don't offer friendship. You don't even think to call me Wikifather:

- This episode began life as a Sisko show in which he travels into the future and encounters his own future self, who subsequently warns him that if he follows a particular course of action, there will be dire consequences. David Weddle and Bradley Thompson wrote a teaser which they really liked, but they then found themselves completely stumped as to where to take the rest of the show; "There was nothing to say beyond the fact that these two Siskos have a great struggle. There was no bottom to the show." However, the main problem was that Thompson and Weddle didn't have enough time to work out the kinks, as principal photography began in two weeks. As such, Ira Steven Behr suggested that they abandon the story altogether and do a show about Ezri's backstory, which he himself had been tinkering with for several weeks. Behr's basic idea was that Ezri's family was involved with the Orion Syndicate, with Yanas Tigan being a particularly powerful member of the organization. In this conception of the story, Ezri would be like the character of Michael Corleone in the 1972 Francis Ford Coppola movie The Godfather – the son/daughter who has no interest in the family business, who left home to pursue their own dreams, and who now has returned. When Ezri returns home, her mother reveals that it was the Syndicate who "arranged" for Ezri to be given the Dax symbiont on the USS Destiny. This idea was dropped however, because, as Thompson explains, "It was a little too sleazy to suggest that Starfleet could be manipulated like that." However, it was now only a couple of days before production began, and the script still had no central crux. The writers wanted to keep Behr's Orion Syndicate plotline to some degree, but they needed a reason for it to be there; why would a story about Ezri's family involve the Syndicate? Eventually, Ira Behr suggested that they bring in O'Brien and the Liam Bilby story from "Honor Among Thieves" and have O'Brien searching for Bilby's widow. As Ronald D. Moore, who helped compose the final draft of the script, explains, "The show was already in prep, so it was a case of 'First thought, best thought.' Just throw it down and move on, because we've gotta get ten pages out today. So boom! You just blaze through it."

- It seems that every season of Deep Space Nine has an episode which the writers and producers universally regard as the weakest of the season. In Season 1 it was "Move Along Home"; in Season 2 it was "Rivals"; Season 3 was "Meridian"; Season 4 was "The Muse"; Season 5 was "Let He Who Is Without Sin..."; Season 6 was "Profit and Lace"; and in Season 7 it was "Prodigal Daughter", which is not surprising given the problems getting the script in order. According to Ira Behr, "There's plenty of blame to go around on this one. The script never came together." Ron Moore is more blunt, "It was just a mess." René Echevarria points out, "None of O'Brien's story could happen on-screen, so there was no investigation. The story got so diluted that it felt like a soap opera." According to Nicole de Boer, "Ira apologized to me for the episode afterward." Even director Victor Lobl was unimpressed, "Other than the trappings, it never felt part of Deep Space Nine. It seemed like O'Brien had been brought in just to bear witness to these events more than anything else. But that only got us to a location, and then we just watched things unfold. The feeling across the board was there was nothing very powerful driving it." In fact, the crew became so disillusioned with the show that they dubbed it "Audra Goes Home", a tongue-in-cheek reference to the TV show The Big Valley.

- The title of the episode is a reference to the Biblical parable known as the "Prodigal Son", as told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke 15:11–32. However, the Prodigal Son wasted all his money and came home penniless. In contrast, Ezri comes home as a commissioned officer on a promising career path.

"There are varieties of gagh?"
"Oh, yes. I can remember what each one tastes like... and the way they... move when you swallow them. Torgud gagh wiggles. Filden gagh squirms. Meshta gagh jumps. [...] Bithool gagh has feet. [...] Wistan gagh is packed in targ blood... I have to go now."

- Kira and Ezri

"I haven't talked to my mother in almost six months."
"Last time I saw her was just after I was joined. She came to visit me on Trill and I was still a little confused... When she walked into my room, I put on a big smile, looked her right in the eye and said: Hi mom, it's me... Curzon..."

- Ezri and Sisko
posted by Halloween Jack (7 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Proof that even DS9 can fall victim to the perennial Trek tendency to screw up crime stories.

What a piece of crap, though, truly. The only real stakes are faced by characters we just met and do not care about in the slightest.

It might not have sucked as hard as it did if some of the Tigans were likeable. In fact, I guess that's one thing I can say in this episode's favor: the actress playing Ezri's mother is very believable as That Sort of Mother. Like, believable enough to be squirm-inducing.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:46 AM on November 7, 2016 [3 favorites]

I don't know, I didn't hate this episode. I mean, I don't disagree that it's not a good episode, but, I didn't find it offensively bad as I was watching it, more of a 'meh, shrug' reaction.
posted by oh yeah! at 9:22 PM on November 7, 2016

It was mostly just forgettable and not very interesting.

I probably would have enjoyed it if it had been an Ezri episode, but it turned into something else.
posted by 2ht at 4:50 AM on November 8, 2016

What COB said above--"The only real stakes are faced by characters we just met and do not care about in the slightest"--is the real problem with this episode. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, especially when you're talking about a rewatch of an episode that came out nearly eighteen years ago, but I wish they'd stuck with some of their earlier ideas for the episode. The one about Ezri's family maybe having something to do with her getting the symbiont, for example: you wouldn't have to have Starfleet directly involved in that, but it would make for a great bit in the teaser to suggest that her family might have had something to do with Jadzia's death, and then resolve that early in the first act, but still float the possibility that they may have been able to arrange to have the Destiny pick up the symbiont, then tamper with its life support system so that it would be implanted in Ezri. After all, we know that getting a symbiont is highly competitive among Trill, and having a family member with several lifetimes' experience, not to mention the connections and special knowledge that Curzon and Jadzia have, would be a huge advantage to a crime family. You could then resolve that by saying that, yes, the Tigans did plant someone on the Destiny, but that they had nothing to do with the symbiont, and were there just to watch over Ezri.

But you still have them be members of the Orion Syndicate, and the real plot is that, as we saw in "Honor Among Thieves", the Syndicate is making deals with the Dominion not just for things such as hit jobs on the Klingon Ambassador but for disrupting the supply chain for the Alliance while making sure that the Dominion had what it needed. The opportunity there would be for the Alliance to flip that around and cut a deal with the Syndicate (or a more sympathetic faction thereof) to make sure that their supplies went through and the Dominion's didn't. (Kind of similar to the deal that the American government made with the Mafia in WWII.) You could still have O'Brien involved with that, maybe Quark (albeit reluctantly because of his past attempted dealings with them), and have Ezri, although shocked by finding out that her mom's a mobster and disgusted by some of the things that they did, find out that some of her past hosts' experiences were in fact relevant to the deal going through. And, at the end, she confesses her feelings of guilt and disillusionment to Sisko, who pours her a drink and says that lots of people were finding out that they were having to do things that weren't easy to live with.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:43 AM on November 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

One great thing about this episode; the extras walking out of the airlock at the beginning of the episode where Julian is waiting for Miles are the same extras walking out of the transport that brings Rom back at the beginning of the previous episode.
posted by midmarch snowman at 2:41 PM on April 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

While this absolutely was not a good episode, it was approximately 1,000,000 times better than Profit and Lace. And Ezri's descriptions of the multiple kinds of gagh, and her facial expressions, were pretty good.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:25 AM on February 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yeah, if this is the disaster episode for this season, they’re doing okay. This is Hamlet next to Profit and Lace.
posted by Naberius at 9:27 PM on March 19

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