Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Field of Fire   Rewatch 
November 14, 2016 11:01 AM - Season 7, Episode 13 - Subscribe

"Well, ClariceEzri - have the lambs stopped screaming?"

A census taker once tried to test Memory Alpha. It ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Romulan ale:

- With David Weddle, Bradley Thompson and Ronald D. Moore all busy trying to salvage "Prodigal Daughter", Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler working on "The Emperor's New Cloak", and René Echevarria working on "Chimera", Ira Behr found himself in a situation where he needed an episode, and had no-one to write it. As such, he contacted his old writing partner Robert Hewitt Wolfe and pitched an idea about a serial killer sniper being loose on the station. When Wolfe agreed to do the script, Behr foresaw the episode as an Odo show, but as Wolfe explains, "I felt we'd seen the constable investigate this kind of thing before. I wanted to use a character whom we hadn't seen spearhead an investigation. That gave me a chance to do something with Ezri." Wolfe decided that if Ezri was investigating a murderer, it might bring out her memories of Joran, and she comes to realize that if she embraces these memories, they may help her stop the killer. As such, in Wolfe's first draft, Ezri creates a hologram of Joran, but he quickly realized that this limited the character, and so he decided to go what he refers to as "the Trill mumbo-jumbo route."

- According to Wolfe, a Vulcan serial killer was chosen in order to shock viewers. He commented, "What would be the biggest surprise to a regular Star Trek fan? No one's going to be surprised if a Bajoran or a Cardassian or a Romulan is the killer. But a Vulcan serial killer? That'll make you sit up and take notice. I wanted to show the psychological strains of the War are far-reaching. If you've got a Vulcan who's cracking under the battle, that says something."

"How can anyone be so happy with such unattractive children?"

- Joran Dax

"Tell me, why did you do it?"
"Because logic demanded it."

- Ezri Dax confronts the Vulcan murderer Chu'lak
posted by Halloween Jack (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Of note, this is the only Trek episode directed by Tony Dow, a.k.a. Wally Cleaver from Leave It to Beaver.

"But a Vulcan serial killer? That'll make you sit up and take notice."

Worked for me. It may have been the only thing about the episode that worked for me. The new Joran actor was way too over-the-top and way too soap-opera-ish. (And he looked nothing at all like original Joran.) Not to mention the whole "THINK LIKE THE KILLER…AND BECOME HIM" gimmick is pretty overdone, and I have to think was already overdone in 1999. The rifle-with-a-transporter-on-it seemed like a bit of a stretch, too.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

The rifle-with-a-transporter-on-it seemed like a bit of a stretch, too.

Why in god's name did they stop making those things?? We could probably list about 50 times over the course of this show when they would have saved the day.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:46 AM on November 15, 2016 [3 favorites]

Why in god's name did they stop making those things?? We could probably list about 50 times over the course of this show when they would have saved the day.

IKR? Just the "X-ray vision" headset would have been useful. As for the plausibility of the mini-transporter, I found myself wondering how you could have a scaled-down transporter locking on and beaming a slug going at the speed of sound, but there's always been a certain amount of space magic involved in transporters anyway, and it's not terribly implausible that you could make it work if you not only knew exactly where it would be but also were basically beaming the exact same simple object every time, with no real concern for whether or not a few molecules get rearranged.

As for the episode in general... well, I've already kind of made my opinion known in the SotL references and the tags, as I do. Nothing in particular against Leigh McCloskey, who's got dozens of acting credits over four decades of steady work, but a lot of those credits are actually in soap operas, and the role could have used someone more like Avery Brooks, whose short but chilling turn as Joran in "Facets" worked so well because Brooks commits to it so fully. Or maybe just a more nuanced script; maybe something with Ezri thinking that she can handle Joran better because she's the shrink, and Joran in turn exploiting her lack of training in handling her past memories to try to effect a takeover of her personality, and maybe even have another one of her past hosts--not Jadzia (too soon!) or Curzon (a bit overused), but one of the ones that we really didn't know anything about besides what we learned in "Facets"--come to the rescue. I have to have some sympathy for the writing staff, though, with the bit about their working on several other episodes at the same time, and maybe even looking ahead to the big final arc.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:09 AM on November 15, 2016 [2 favorites]

I hadn't remembered that Ezri's two rather meh showcase episodes were so close together. (This one isn't as meh as the mob family one, but it's not terrific either.) There is a thread on Ask Metafilter right now asking which episodes of DS9 are skippable. I was vehement that if you're going to watch the series you should watch the whole thing... but if any episodes are skippable, it might be this and the one with Ezri's family. Neither is awful, but they're just kind of... there?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:47 AM on November 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

This didn't get better on re-watch.

We have a Vulcan who is Against Smiling. So anti-smiling that he's willing to kill people who have photos of smiling people in their quarters. Because Vulcans are emotionless, you see. They must hate emotions. Inescapable logic, there. And the excuse he gives: "Because logic demanded it" makes no sense whatsoever.

We have a Trill Past Life who was rewritten to become a serial killer. And we have the station's counselor wandering the station seemingly talking to herself. Which would only be slightly less disturbing to other station personnel than what's actually happening to her -- that she's talking to the newly retconned serial killer personality embedded in her trill symbiont.

Mr. Serial Killer Trill Past Life is presented to us as the embodiment of ultimate evil. The actor chewed the scenery a bit but otherwise doesn't sound too evil. Just full of himself.

Last but not least, we have a mini headset scanner which can see perfectly through station walls. A different level of disturbing. And a rifle which can kill remotely by transporting a high velocity bullet -- which was never seen on screen again.

The exploding melon bit was unexpected and a bit amusing.
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Zarq, IIRC Joran was a murderer from the beginning. (Although it was more that he killed people who got in his way than he was the classic "serial killer" type who killed for thrills.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:56 PM on November 16, 2016

I'd disagree that the Vulcan guy was 'against smiling.' I felt like after surviving that massacre he decided that it was better if people who were happy died now, immediately and painlessly, while they were still happy, rather than losing everything and cracking like he did.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:03 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ursula, in Equilibrium, Joran was a musician who killed a doctor. He says "He left me no choice!" about the murder. Here, he's been rewritten as a serial killer -- someone who killed more than once and apparently took sadistic pleasure from it.

His backstory was reworked to make him more of a sociopath.
posted by zarq at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2016

This episode is terrible.

The gut check to identify the killer in the turbo lift is really just anti Vulcan racism, right? This is a completely baseless hunch, and the episode would have been much better if it were wrong.

The killer's motivation makes no sense. The actor playing Jordan is terrible. The whole thing comes across as copoganda, which is really disappointing given that there's a number of ds9 episodes that were really far ahead of their time in their critiques of solitary confinement and the death penalty.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:37 PM on July 27, 2021

« Older Podcast: See Something Say Som...   |  Manhattan: The Understudy... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments