Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sisko Catches Up To The Viewer When The Other Emissary Appears In “Accession!”

The Good: Character resolution, Acting, B-plot, Humor
The Bad: Purpose, Tone, Pacing
The Basics: When an ancient Bajoran is ejected from the wormhole, he and Sisko debate who is the rightful Emissary.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was overall one of the very best television shows ever created. It had imagination, amazing characters, insight into the human condition. It had everything anyone could want from great television. Unfortunately, every now and then, the series did an episode too late for its own good. The second season episode "The Maquis," for example, has Kira characterized more with first season sensibilities and it doesn't read as well. "Accession" is in a similar place.

"Accession" finds Captain Sisko frustrated about his dual role as a StarFleet officer and the Bajoran Emissary of the Prophets. Eager to lose the religious title, Sisko gets his chance when an ancient Bajoran poet appears from the wormhole. Claiming to be the Emissary, Sisko endorses him. Keiko O'Brien returns to the station pregnant and she and O'Brien begin to plan for a new baby. Akorem Laan, now the Emissary, begins to enforce an ancient caste system that the Bajorans abandoned during the Occupation. Finding himself now without a first officer as a result, Sisko begins to oppose Akorem and the two take it to the Prophets for resolution.

The essential problem with "Accession" is that it comes too late in the series for us to find it believable and actually care. That is, by the late fourth season, we all know Sisko is the Emissary. Heck, the first episode of the SERIES establishes him as the Emissary. So his lethargic attitude toward being a Bajoran religious icon in the beginning does not read right and we know the episode will end with Sisko coming to terms with his duality. The disappointing aspect of the episode for the fans is that we've all already come to that conclusion. We're comfortable with Sisko being both a religious icon and a StarFleet officer, so why isn't he?

The only other serious problem is in the pacing. While the episode breaks up the dragging a-plot of Akorem's appearance with the news of Keiko's pregnancy well, the amount of time Akorem's imposition of the caste system takes and is explored is long and tiresome. Instead of having any momentum to it, the piece feels ponderous and it makes Sisko's lack of resolve in the middle sections especially disturbing.

But beyond that, the episode has much to offer the fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Sisko once and for all resolves to be a part of this place and time and he leaves the episode empowered to be a religious leader as well as a StarFleet officer. While the conflict is not fully put to rest, it will not manifest itself in the same indecision and whiny anger that it has up until this point in the series.

What makes the episode worthwhile is character development in both plots. The O'Briens come to accept and celebrate the pregnancy and Sisko finally gets out of his funk that he had overcome for everything else but being the Emissary, apparently. In "Accession," Sisko has genuine growth. So does Kira, though hers lasts only the duration of the episode. Compelled to be an artist by her new caste, Kira finds herself very much out of her element.

The acting in this episode is decent for all of the main stars. Avery Brooks creates a genuine sense of moodiness and brooding and he plays discomfort quite well. Similarly, Rosalind Chao brings great energy to the role of Keiko, making her pregnancy a surprise and a believable one. Colm Meany plays off her quite well and the two have become an excellent, realistic example of a married couple on television.

What will make "Accession" enjoyable to those who are not fans of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the humor. This is a funny episode in the parts where it is not being depressed and slow. Kira's attempts at art and Worf's reaction to Keiko's pregnancy are worth the price of admission alone. This is essentially a story about a man claiming what is his already and accepting that as a part of the person he wants to be. That makes the episode fairly accessible to all.

Part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for the pregnancy and character growth, "Accession" is a decent hour of television that overcomes its limitations with style and impressive acting.

[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 index page by clicking here!

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