The Good: Plot, Pacing, Acting, Character play, Individual lines
The Bad: Not many; overall predictability.
The Basics: An overall solid episode of television, a must for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fans, this work follows Kira as she's forced to confront the possibility she's a Cardassian.
"Second Skin" continues the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine tradition of taking a good story and making it great through intense character work and excellent attention to detail. This episode tends to get a tough break as many people compare it - not unjustly - to the Star Trek The Next Generation episode "Face Of The Enemy." Unjustly, the critics of the episode say that "Second Skin" is a rip off of the Next Generation episode and a pale copy at that.
Instead, "Second Skin" is a well-tailored episode that focuses on two great Deep Space Nine characters. Kira Nerys is contacted by the Bajoran Archives with questions about a labor camp that Kira was detained at, yet cannot remember being at. When Kira is recognized by another former inmate at that same labor camp, she decides it's time to investigate further. She awakens on Cardassia, with a Cardassian face to discover that she is a deep cover operative for the Obsidian Order. From then on, she is juggled between Entek, a high ranking Obsidian Order operative and Legate Ghemor, a high level member of the Cardassian Central Command. As Kira's identity is challenged and she tries to fathom what the Cardassians want with her, Garak learns of her capture and is conscripted to help rescue her. The two character plots come together wonderfully in a climax that is well paced and sets up an episode a few seasons away.
"Second Skin" is not simply a cheap make-up, special effect episode, it's a solid story exploring the nature of memory and the lengths of the spy organization in the Cardassian society. Kira is forced to question the extreme moments of her life under the convincing arguments presented by Entek, including what appears to be her own corpse. It's a smart episode that challenges our expectations about Kira's character. While we figure it's all a hoax, the episode forces us to question whether what Entek says is plausible and it largely is.
In addition to an excellent character study of Kira, the outfits in this episode are top notch. I mean, Kira's Cardassian uniform alone is worth the price of admission. It's a great garment.
While the episode largely focuses on Kira, Garak steals the show. He has the best lines, his characteristic wit and demeanor. He offers a lot of humor to an otherwise serious and morbid episode. He's just plain wonderful.
The acting in "Second Skin" is great. Nana Visitor rises to the occasion, playing Kira with wonderful range as she explores the possibility that much of her past has been a lie. She's smart and emotive in her expressions. Playing Ghemor is Lawrence Pressman and he uses his brief time on screen to create the memorable role. The acting kudos goes to Gregory Sierra who played Entek. He has a perfect voice and facial expressions for the role of the Obsidian Order operative.
The weakness of the episode is probably somewhere in the plot, though it's hard to say because the plot is wonderfully convoluted and intricate. It bears few similarities to "Face Of The Enemy" other than the cosmetic alteration of one of the key officers.
This is an excellent episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and a great piece of television for non-fans, though those who don't know Star Trek: Deep Space Nine will be confused by the intricacies and allusions in "Second Skin." Part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Third Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the breakout season by clicking here!
For other Star Trek episode, movie, or DVD set reviews, be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2007, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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