Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Unfortunately Contrived, "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." Makes A Straightforward Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Overly Complicated.

The Good: Moments of performance, Moments of concept, Sense of continuity
The Bad: Very forced plot and character elements.
The Basics: When Dax and Worf choose to push up the date of their marriage, they incur the wrath of Martok’s wife in “You Are Cordially Invited . . .“

There is something troubling about what happens when a great television show takes a decidedly mediocre step. In the case of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, most of the time the show managed to stay fresh and feel different. So, when – in the final moments of “A Call To Arms” (reviewed here!) – Dax accepts Worf’s lingering marriage proposal, viewers of the mature Star Trek: Deep Space Nine did not feel like they would have to play a dumb season’s long game of “will they or won’t they.” Unlike many dramas that string viewers along with unnecessary roadblocks, viewers of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine had the reasonable expectation that if Dax was accepting the proposal, a wedding would happen. That was confirmed almost immediately in the sixth season of the show when “A Time To Stand” (reviewed here!) found Dax and Worf bickering about the details of their dateless, “after the war” wedding. At that point, the most contrived element was Worf complaining about Dax scheduling one ceremony before or after another event or ceremony, which was vaguely ridiculous given that there was no firm date set. But viewers went with it. And it was largely un-ridiculous.

Then came "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." is the wedding episode and all of the intellect and class the writers of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine seems to go out the window. I know, I fly in the face of popular opinion. I love the costumes, I enjoy the ceremony, I love the continuity aspects that tie up other lingering issues in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine storyline that are present in "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." But, largely, "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." is stiflingly dumb. It is; it’s one of the most ridiculously plotted episodes of the entire series and most fans only put up with it because the payoff is so good. It is almost, ALMOST, enough for me.

In addition to providing a wedding for Worf and Dax, "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." introduces Martok’s wife on-screen for the first and only time. The idea that Martok was married is hinted at in the very first appearance of the character. Worf attacks Martok’s son in “The Way Of The Warrior” (reviewed here!), which opens up the implication that Martok might have been married. "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." marks the only appearance of Sirella, his wife.

With the wounds from the occupation of Deep Space Nine slowly healing, Sisko and his crew get back into the groove at the space station that they fought so hard to retake. As Kira and Sisko adapt to daily life, Dax and Worf play host to Worf’s son, Alexander. When they learn that Alexander’s ship will not be staying long at the station, Dax decides that they should get married as close to immediately as possible. Consenting, Worf begins a week-long fast with Sisko, Bashir, O’Brien, Martok and Alexander, as part of several Klingon rituals that prepare the wedding party for the wedding.

While Worf and his male friends struggle with ceremonial deprivations, Kira works to avoid Odo following the awkwardness that occurred between them during the Occupation. But Dax has to square off with Sirella, who is strongly conservative. As she tests Dax, Dax works to meet her challenges, despite the difficulties and her pride.

"You Are Cordially Invited. . ." has some interesting moments, but most of it is a protracted build-up to a wedding and a sole episode of “will they or won’t they” melodrama. The episode has some wonderful lines – exchanges between Bashir and O’Brien are particularly memorable – and it is a fun episode, but the whole conflict of pretending like the wedding would not happen is just annoying. For the purpose of this episode, Dax becomes ridiculously childish at points and Worf transitions back to the ridiculously conservative character he seemed to have left behind in “Let He Who Is Without Sin . . .” (reviewed here!). I suppose the episodes with Worf and ellipses means he’ll be uncharacteristically conservative.

That said, "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." makes good use of some of the characters. It is especially refreshing to seek Kira and Sisko working together again and Kira is given a great character moment with just how much she smiles in the opening scenes of the episode. As important is how well the episode deals with the Kira and Odo relationship. Sure, Odo’s secret is out, but the pair is now awkwardly dancing around that truth and they have to be able to work with one another. One of the saving graces of "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." is that Kira and Odo take some time to deal with what happened during the recent occupation like adults. This is far more believable than a woman marrying a man who pretty much called her a slut a few hours prior and her looking happy during the ceremony!

When "You Are Cordially Invited. . .," the Southern Baptist Convention rather ridiculously staged a boycott of the episode throughout the South. Their reason: "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." features an interracial wedding (they spoiled the episode long before anyone else on the Internet, making the “will they or won’t they” conflict pretty meaningless). For once, though, I actually applaud the Southern Baptist Convention. Why? As a scientist, I loathe how “race” is thrown around. "You Are Cordially Invited. . .," however, features two characters of different races – Klingon and Trill – getting married, so they actually stood by their convictions, I suppose. Sure, they objected to a black person and a white person marrying, but whites and blacks are actually of the same race (different ethnicities, same race, common mistake).

I’m vamping here at the end because, frankly, I have so little to say about "You Are Cordially Invited. . ." This is an exceptionally average episode and while it is part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and is a fun episode, it is by no means a great episode or great television.

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

For other works with Shannon Cochran, please visit my reviews of:
Star Trek: Nemesis
The Ring
NYPD Blue - Season 1
“Preemptive Strike”


For other Star Trek episode reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

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