Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Long Slow Death Of "The Quickening"

The Good: Good Bashir character exploration, Teaser
The Bad: Stretched out plot, Deadly dull pacing, No superlative acting, Disappointing moment of "surprise"
The Basics: When Bashir struggles to cure a disease on a distant planet, little entertainment results in “The Quickening.”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had a wonderful habit of having reliable teasers; the show would begin and the viewer would have an idea where it was going before the opening credits rolled. Once in a very long while, there would be an episode with a deceptive teaser and those episodes were frequently disappointments. One such episode is "The Quickening."

Opening with Quark being apprehended for reprogramming the station's computers with Quark's Bar advertisements and merchandise, "The Quickening" rapidly departs the station to find Bashir and Dax on a world on the borders of Dominion space in the Gamma Quadrant. There, the people suffer from the Blight, a deadly disease that was originally distributed by the Jem'Hadar when the people of the planet resisted the Dominion. Now, the citizens suffer a horrible death at the hands of an insidious disease. Bashir, immediately taken with the plight of these people, immediately sets to work discovering a cure to the blight.

The disappointing aspect of "The Quickening" - the title refers to the period of the Blight where the lesions on the victims faces become worse right before death - is that it seems to have been written with a single moment in mind. That is, there's a moment near the end that seems to present itself as being clever and I may only imagine that when Naren Shankar wrote "The Quickening," he wrote it around that one moment. As Bashir treats patients with the blight, he suddenly discovers that his own medical equipment is causing the virus to mutate. It's a clever idea, but it comes across in the episode as a clever moment and it is the only fast moment in an episode that is otherwise dreadfully slow.

"The Quickening" is essentially a medical drama, but too much of it is dull and waiting. Bashir must first earn the trust of the blight-stricken people. In the process, he meets another "doctor," named Trevean, who helps put those with the quickening out of their misery. This makes for a somewhat natural conflict between the two medical professionals, but it also draws out the length of time before Bashir actually gets to work working on medical matters. When his equipment becomes responsible for harming those with the disease, the resulting pity party seems more pedantic than real.

So even when the episode has a clever idea, it falls flat because the rest of the episode is so unrelentingly dull. That is, rewatching the episode, the viewer feels like the entire episode is waiting for the clever concept and the thirty seconds it takes is not worth the other 42 1/2 minutes. The rest of the episode does not make up for this.

What is noticeably lacking here are interesting characters with decent portrayals. The two main guest characters are Trevean, a humane killer-doctor, and Ekoria, a pregnant woman who finds hope in Bashir. Trevean is played blandly and unmemorably by Michael Sarrazin. Ekoria is played by Ellen Wheeler and she seems to rely on the make-up for the Blight to do most of the work that she, as an actress, ought to have done. That is, she never truly sells us on her pain and misfortune. None of the guest actors are terribly convincing, too many of them fail to convince us of the pain and suffering of the Blight and Quickening.

Bashir, however, is quite well presented in "The Quickening." He is doing what we want him to do; be a doctor. Here he illustrates his resolve in a medical matter and it fits him perfectly. Similarly, Alexander Siddig is acting quite well; he convinces us of his character's compassion and heartache through his body language and earnest delivery of some of his more difficult lines.

In the end, even Siddig's acting cannot save this episode; it is too little stretched too thin. It's a close call, but only those people who are die hard medical drama fans will find something they want to see over and over again in "The Quickening." While the Blight is referenced in one of the series' final episodes, this still is not an essential episode.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the turnaround season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek reviews, please visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

© 2012, 2007, 2003 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
| | |

No comments:

Post a Comment