Sunday, April 22, 2012

“Chrysalis” Gives Dr. Bashir Another Chance At Love.

The Good: Decent character work, Excellent acting
The Bad: Very predictable and plot-focused.
The Basics: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine revisits the plight of the genetically enhanced when Dr. Bashir comes up with an effective treatment for Sarina.

As Star Trek: Deep Space Nine wound down toward its inevitable end, it had a lot of plot threads that had been introduced that it could revisit. Part of what made the show so good and made it feel like it was part of a continuum, a universe and time greater than simply itself, was that some plotlines were introduced very late in the series and had potential greater than what was explored. The plotline that had Dr. Bashir working with a group of genetically enhanced individuals was introduced in “Statistical Probabilities” (reviewed here!) and it was only revisited once more, in “Chrysalis.”

“Chrysalis” is interesting because it almost immediately sets the viewer up for one of two scenarios – a bottle episode or a “Flowers For Algernon”-style character tragedy. But within those two options, the episode manages to both be interesting and contain a few surprises. While it could have been a simple one-shot write-off episode, “Chrysalis” enhances the character of Dr. Julian Bashir even further and it makes “Statistical Probabilities” a much better episode in context of the overall series.

Dr. Bashir is frantic when Nog calls him, telling him an admiral is demanding to see him. As it turns out, it is the genetically enhanced Patrick and he, Jack and Lauren have brought Sarina back to Deep Space Nine for Dr. Bashir. Bashir has been working on curing Sarina of her catatonia induced as part of the genetic manipulation she was subjected to. When Jack helps engineer the theoretical device that Bashir believes might cure her, Bashir performs a risky procedure which helps Sarina interact in normal time, at normal speeds.

As Sarina experiences all that is around her with a childlike sense of wonder and an intellect that matches that of Dr. Bashir, Julian falls more and more in love with her. Advised against getting involved with a patient, Bashir assigns another member of his staff to treat Sarina and he works to be a partner to her.

“Chrysalis” is just as smart as it needs to be and filled with enough emotion to make it enjoyable to watch. In other words, the episode rightly does not sweep under the rug either the ethical dilemma Bashir is confronted with by pursuing a relationship with Sarina, nor the realistic probability that Sarina’s feels are more an attempt to pay a debt than a plausible capacity to love so soon. The result is that Sarina makes sage observations on how others interact, most notably Odo and Kira and she makes for a much more interesting and authoritative observer than, for example, Vic Fontaine, who usually makes such commentary.

Even with serious issues the episode has to address, “Chrysalis” manages to be fun. The show focuses for an extended period of time on Sarina working to make her voice sound natural. After a few elocution lessons from Jack and Lauren, the quartet begins singing and it is hard not to feel the sense of wonder Sarina is portraying in that scene. The audience is given the opportunity to become engrossed with Sarina’s sense of wonder and director Jonathan West does an admirable job of drawing the viewer into a very atypical scene for this series.

As well, “Chrysalis” does not neglect the consequences. O’Brien and Ezri both look at Bashir as someone doing something unseemly when it seems like Bashir may have saved Sarina from being trapped in her own mind only to save himself from his own loneliness. Fortunately, Bashir is both smart and compassionate and the episode is resolved in a way that is eminently satisfying. Part of the satisfaction from the episode comes from the fact that Bashir is not suddenly able to save the others and that that, too, is addressed helps the episode work well.

Because so much of the episode is focused intimately on Dr. Bashir and Sarina, both Alexander Siddig and Faith C. Salie give decent performances. Siddig, for example, is able to infuse a bit of passion into the delivery of some of the episode’s most heartwrenching lines. Bashir, as was observed in “The Sound Of Her Voice” (reviewed here!), has not been the warmest character since the Dominion War began. Making Bashir go cold was gradual and surprisingly thorough. So, in “Chrysalis” when Siddig as Bashir pleads with Salie’s Sarina, it is hard not to feel a tug on the heart as a viewer.

As for Faith C. Salie, she has to be thrilled by “Chrysalis.” Uncredited in the opening credits of “Statistical Probabilities,” she finally gets a speaking role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in this episode. And Salie makes great use of that. In addition to being musical, she has the chance to play a simply kind character who interacts nicely with Bashir. Salie and Siddig have decent on-screen chemistry, which helps both characters with their internal conflicts.

“Chrysalis” may not be part of the essential Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, but it is one of the late-series episodes that effectively utilizes elements introduced earlier in the series to enrich the overall universe of Deep Space Nine.

[Knowing that the season is a much better investment, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which provides the full story for the conclusion to the series. Read my review of the final season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek reviews, please be sure to visit my Star Trek Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the episodes and movies I have reviewed!

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