Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rene Auberjonois Takes Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Outside For "Let He Who Is Without Sin. . ."

The Good: Decent acting, Decent character growth
The Bad: Light on plot/has been done before.
The Basics: “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” might be little more than an excuse to put Terry Farrell in a bathing suit, but it is hard to complain about that!

There is a bit of an irony to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .,” at least from my perspective. One of my favorite Star Trek convention moments came when I had the opportunity to see Rene Auberjonois. Auberjonois had just finished shooting the episode of Enterprise he appeared on and people were pressing him for details. At that point, even, it was clear that the fans were not embracing Enterprise and Auberjonois seemed to actually be downplaying his appearance as more of a mealticket as opposed to something he actually enjoyed. When asked about how it was to work with Scott Bakula, the professional detachment Auberjonois has spoken about the episode suddenly faded, he laughed to himself and he talked about how Bakula had approached him and begun fishing for compliments about the episode they were shooting. According to Auberjonois’s story at the time, after several leading questions, Bakula made a comment akin to, “So, the script was really something, huh? I bet you didn’t see that ending coming!” To which, Auberjonois very coolly replied, “Yes, it was a good script. It was a good story when we did it on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” That ended their conversation, at least according to Auberjonois. I love that story. The irony here is that “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” is essentially the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Drumhead” (reviewed here!) in a different setting . . . and Auberjonois directed “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .!”

“Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” does not appear on anyone’s “Best of” list (at least that I’ve seen) and I suspect the derivative nature of the episode contributes to that. Even so, there are several important character developments that actually make “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” an episode that one ought to watch if they are watching the “essential” Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

“Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” marks the return of the franchise to the planet Risa. Risa is a pleasure planet first introduced in “Captain’s Holiday” (reviewed here!). While it has been alluded to since, it was only seen one other time, in the teaser for “The Game.” “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” takes a bunch of the Deep Space Nine characters to the pleasure planet and gives most of them a chance to grow.

Dax and Worf are looking forward to a romantic getaway when they are joined by Dr. Bashir, Leeta and Quark. While Worf is not thrilled by this, he is looking forward to having time with Dax and the group escapes the station for a while. Once at Risa, though, Worf is frustrated to learn that Dax had a prior relationship with Arandis, the local leader of the area they are visiting. While Dr. Bashir and Leeta start to flirt and cavort with people other than each other, Worf’s jealousy begins to get the better of him.

This agitation makes Worf particularly susceptible to the conservative doctrines proposed by Fullerton. Fullerton is a zealot who believes that the Federation has gotten soft and that the government it utterly unprepared for an attack from the Dominion or the Borg. Trying to wake up the vacationers on Risa, Fullerton – with Worf’s help – begins to upset the carefully-maintained environment of Risa, much to the annoyance of Dax, Arandis, and Quark.

“Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” hardly feels vital. It does, however, teach a decent message that was well ahead of its time, much like “Paradise Lost” (reviewed here!) did. Unfortunately, much of “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” comes across as ridiculous. Worf has been characterized since mid-Star Trek: The Next Generation as a conservative, so that he falls in with Fullerton makes some sense. Unfortunately, it does not make as much sense given that he went through essentially the same with with Admiral Satie in “The Drumhead.” So, Worf takes a pretty large step back in “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” just to service the plot. As well, Worf seems especially up in other people’s business. Worf seems to care a disproportionate amount about how Leeta and Bashir are acting . . . until they reveal what the purpose of the trip was for them in the episode’s final moments. For a man who lives alone on the Defiant, Worf seems to be unusually gossipy in “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .”

But, again, the purpose of “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” seems mostly to be to get Terry Farrell’s Dax in a bathing suit and the resident sex symbol of Deep Space Nine performs that role exceptionally well.

“Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” has decent guest acting. Despite being an annoying character moving an exceptionally obvious social message plot, Monte Markham is great casting for Fullerton. Markham has a menacing presence that makes his character seem like he actually has the convictions he claims to, which is refreshing in a zealot. Markham has piercing eyes and a solid stance that makes him realistically a leader people would follow (even if the setting is all wrong for his arguments).

By contrast, Vanessa Williams has a great outing as Arandis. She is bubbly and fun and she and Terry Farrell play off one another well in “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .”

Ultimately, “Let He Who Is Without Sin. . .” has a somewhat ridiculous quality. Risa is a vacation planet, so the fundamentalists chose a strange location to make a statement about how weak the Federation is. After all, of course people are soft and weak on the pleasure planet; they are there for a vacation! Betazed might have been a better planet for such an argument as that is a core world of the Federation where the people are philosophical and non-combative (and, ironically, one of the worlds that falls to the Dominion in the impending Dominion War). But complaining that the Federation has grown weak and soft on the one pleasure planet is like complaining that there are only sweets at the candy shop.

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


For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my Star Trek Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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