Saturday, December 10, 2011

Leaping Into The Near Future With Miles O'Brien Is "Visionary"

The Good: Very cool idea, Good acting, Interesting character development
The Bad: Obvious when one knows the Star Trek universe
The Basics: Suspenseful and intriguing, "Visionary" takes the opportunity to finally kill Miles O'Brien.

While it seems every Star Trek series has a whipping boy, none of the characters who get beaten up consistently take it worse and more often than Miles O'Brien does on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. At least once a season, O'Brien gets the crap kicked out of him and usually it's an episode that challenges us or makes us think. Earlier in the third season, O'Brien was beaten up by the Jem'Hadar, severely burned, abandoned - albeit with consent - from his wife and hit on by his mortal enemy. Culminating in "Visionary," O'Brien will actually witness the destruction of everything he has ever known and loved.

When a Romulan delegation arrives at the station to get intelligence information the Federation has promised them under the terms of their treaty by which the Federation is allowed to use the cloaking device, Miles O'Brien leaps a few hours into the future. While the incident is first believed to be a fluke, the events O'Brien witnessed soon come to pass. His time jumps soon reveal his own death and then the destruction of the station. Determined to find out the cause of his leaps as well as what destroys the station, O'Brien must consider making the ultimate sacrifice.

"Visionary" is pretty much the tertiary plot for O'Brien's physical torture. Here he is killed, not just once, but twice. You don't get more physically devastating than that. The idea is a good one: O'Brien must solve a mystery with clues available only through a unique ability he has suddenly gained.

"Visionary" doesn't simply feel like a "torture O'Brien" plot. Instead, it feels like a mystery and a character story. In that way, it delivers. We feel bad for O'Brien as he becomes hurt more and more while seeking the truth.

Unfortunately, anyone who is a fan of the Star Trek universe is going to be able to call this one. That is, if you've seen enough Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes (particularly the wonderful "Timescape"), the cause of O'Brien's time jumps is unsurprising. That the staff of the station does not figure out the cause the moment the specific term is brought into play is disappointing.

Otherwise, this is an enjoyable episode. Much of it does hinge on Colm Meany's acting. Here Meany presents O'Brien as seriously wounded from the beginning and he convinces us each moment he goes down, feeling lightheaded after the leaps he makes. More than that, Colm - who has always portrayed a realistic human element as O'Brien - roots us in the realism of the problem. He reacts as many of us would when making these jumps, with confusion, disbelief and horror. It's more than just the writing, it's the way Meany carries himself, the way he eliminates all humor from his expressions and body language.

The rest of the cast gives worthwhile supporting performances. It's amusing that the Romulans deduce Odo's little secret and Kira, oblivious, rejects the idea when they present it to her. Rene Auberjonis and Nana Visitor do great jobs as playing their scene with utmost sincerity as opposed to allowing it to become tongue in cheek. Similarly, Siddig El Fadil keeps Bashir earnest and focused when he might be able to play the Doctor as more humorous.

In the end, this is an essential episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it reveals the Romulan mindset to the Dominion Threat. Their cultural viewpoint becomes integral near the end of the season and in the sixth season. This episode establishes the essential conflict they feel. Add to that, "Visionary" does it with style, keeping the viewer entranced while providing them this information.

Poor O'Brien takes it a couple of time in this episode but in the process, one of the most memorable episode of the series is created. The nice thing about it is that while it is essential to the ongoing plot, it is remarkably accessible to those who are not fans of this series. It has more of the feel of a bottle episode, when fans would recognize it as an integral piece of the larger puzzle. People who are not fans will enjoy the mystery aspect of the story and will probably be guessing up until the end what it truly going on.

[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 reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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