Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Sound Of Her Voice" Is An Intimate, Subtly Extraordinary Episode Of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine!

The Good: Wonderful character exploration, Decent acting, Neat effects
The Bad: Mediocre plot.
The Basics: As the Defiant races to save a shipwrecked captain, Jake Sisko studies Quark and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has a very cool episode with “The Sound Of Her Voice.”

I will admit, in the interest of full disclosure, that I have a special affinity for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “The Sound Of Her Voice.” “The Sound Of Her Voice,” the penultimate episode of the sixth season exists, arguably, to soften the audience for the character death that was coming in the final episode of the sixth season. Unlike “Skin Of Evil” (reviewed here!), character deaths in the Star Trek franchise are not typically followed by extended good-byes and living wills. So, “The Sound Of Her Voice” allowed the entire crew of Deep Space Nine to come together for one last scene that would not be replicated in the episode that followed it.

But for me, “The Sound Of Her Voice” is so much more. When I first encountered “The Sound Of Her Voice,” I was at a very low point in my life. But when I saw the episode, it resonated with me. It resonated in such a powerful way – especially the final scene of the episode – that it inspired me to write a novel. My second novel, Living In The Wakes (reviewed here!), actually came about because of the final scenes and the way the performances affected me. I owe a lot to Colm Meany, Alexander Siddig, director Winrich Kolbe and writer Ronald D. Moore for how they inspired me.

The U.S.S. Defiant is headed back to Deep Space Nine when it receives an audio transmission from a crashed Federation ship. Trapped alone, Captain Lisa Cusak transmits to the Defiant while the crew speeds to her rescue. To keep her sane and diverted from her potential impending death, members of the crew talk with Cusak. In conversing with Lisa Cusak, Captain Sisko, Dr. Bashir and Chief O’Brien explore their feelings about the war, their relationships and their lives. Cusak is a wonderful conversationalist and in the days it takes to make the journey, the officers aboard the Defiant begin to become truly attached to her.

Meanwhile, back at the space station, Jake Sisko decides to do an expose on Quark and his nefarious activities. Quark tries to school him on extra-legal transactions and as Jake studies him he comes to realize just how hard Quark has it. As Odo moves in on the deal that could make Quark more profit than he has seen in a long time, Jake and Quark begin to get paranoid that the security chief will foil their plans!

“The Sound Of Her Voice” has a very simple concept and is a pretty archetypal a-plot, b-plot story. The episode works, despite two simple plots, because it is a pair of engaging character studies. Sisko, who starts the episode moody and upset with Kassidy Yates – who is along for the trip – wrestles with his feelings and in Lisa Cusak, he actually has a confidant he can talk to candidly. While Dax and Jake, his traditional confidants, have been rooting for his relationship with Kassidy, it makes sense that he would not be able to talk to them about his doubts and deeper feelings about the freighter captain. In Lisa Cusak, Sisko finds an emotional outlet he would not have otherwise had.

Similarly, O’Brien is able to talk about his feelings for Keiko with Cusak because she seems to understand married life and none of the Chief’s peers are married. As well, she becomes a woman outside his marriage who is very safe to talk with. On an equally compelling front, Bashir comes to realize just how much he has buried himself in his work since the war began and part of what makes “The Sound Of Her Voice” so compelling on his character’s front is that it clearly does bring about a change in him given that at the outset of the next episode, he is working hard to make it possible for Dax and Worf to have a baby.

As for the b-plot, it is pretty easy to discount, as it involves a pretty generic Quark scheme. That does not lessen the exploration Jake makes into the criminal underworld and given that it is a pretty benign operation, Odo’s reaction is interesting to watch. Cirroc Lofton and Armin Shimerman play off one another very well in the b-plot, making for an engaging and amusing distraction from the thematically heavy a-plot.

In the a-plot, the acting is homogenously excellent. Guest star Debra Wilson is amazing at emoting with only her voice and she creates a pretty incredible character. Avery Brooks, Alexander Siddig and Colm Meany all give powerful, subtle, emotive performances that truly illustrate just how incredible they are as actors. Without doing much, they play across a wide range of emotions to make their characters seem realistically troubled by where exactly they are as a result of the war.

Ultimately, “The Sound Of Her Voice” is one of the rare episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine where the episode is about the journey, not the destination. It deserves to be seen, rather than analyzed; it is well worth watching time and again.

[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 Debra Wilson, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Hoodwinked, Too: Hood Vs. Evil
Scary Movie 4


Check how this episode stacks up against other episodes and movies within the Star Trek franchise by visiting my Star Trek Review Index Page where the titles are arranged by rating from best to worst!

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