Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ezri Tries To Return Home In A Fairly Mundane Mystery: “Prodigal Daughter”

The Good: Decent acting, Interesting character issues
The Bad: Pretty mundane plot
The Basics: In “Prodigal Daughter,” viewers learn more about Ezri Dax and the lengths O’Brien would go to for his friends.

Nicole de boer takes some flack for her presence in the final season of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and I think that is, largely, unfair of people. After all, it’s a tough job to join a seasoned cast for its final season, as de Boer had to. Part of the reason I think de Boer takes a disproportional amount of blame for her presence in the seventh season is that too often, the producers and writers seemed unsure of how to use and develop her character. “Prodigal Daughter” is an example of that.

“Prodigal Daughter” is an unfortunately mundane episode that presents Ezri Dax in the middle of a murder mystery that takes a ridiculous amount of time to establish itself as that. In fact, by the time there is the traditional scene in the mystery where a detective asks the initial questions that establish the potential suspects’ whereabouts at the time of the crime, the episode is over. As an interesting twist, “Prodigal Daughter” pairs Ezri and O’Brien and it is only then that the viewer is likely to realize that O’Brien and Jadzia shared very few scenes exclusively with one another.

In “Prodigal Daughter,” a distracted Dr. Bashir is forced to reveal to Captain Sisko that O’Brien has gone AWOL and lost while attempting to locate Liam Bilby’s widow. As it turns out, Ezri’s family is a prominent business family in the area of New Sydney where O’Brien went missing. Ezri’s mother uses O’Brien’s loss to lure her daughter back home and there, Ezri quickly gets caught up in her family’s familiar drama. Her overbearing mother keeps Ezri’s two brothers on a short leash. Norvo, Ezri’s artistic younger brother, is an artist who Ezri thinks is being smothering by Yanas, while her older brother, Janel, runs much of Yanas’s mining operation.

When O’Brien resurfaces, battered by the Orion Syndicate, he has learned that Marika (Bilby’s widow) is dead and he has the Syndicate’s activities traced to New Sydney. O’Brien is put to work by Yanas fixing a mining tool and comes to believe that the Teagan family (Ezri’s family) is involved in the Orion Syndicate. The longer Ezri digs into the murder of Marika Bilby, the more connections she finds with her own family’s business and soon it becomes clear that her estranged family is made up of very different people than she remembered.

Ezri is still in the process of being established in “Prodigal Daughter.” Until this point, we mostly know that Ezri is a nervous counselor who was not prepared to be a joined Trill. She gets spacesick from motion sickness and has become very confused by the voices of the past hosts within the Symbiont’s memories. In “Prodigal Daughter,” we learn that she is essentially estranged from her mother and two brothers. Ezri is protective of her brother Norvo and has almost no relationship with her other brother. The complex relationship between Ezri and her mother is not bad, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has done it before, with Dr. Bashir. And, at least, the show is smart enough to acknowledge the similarities.

“Prodigal Daughter” is not bad, per se, but it is a pretty bland episode. The show is remarkably uncomplicated. What is refreshing about it is that it makes “Honor Among Thieves” (reviewed here!) have a real purpose. That episode is one of the odd dangling random episodes in the series and while Bilby’s cat pops back up, it is not until “Prodigal Daughter” that the episode has a chance to make a real statement about O’Brien that truly endures.

The O’Brien character arc in “Prodigal Daughter” is one that is more inferred than made explicit. O’Brien, reluctantly part of an undercover investigation, developed an affection for his mark. It is a real easy thing to dismiss that and let it fall by the wayside. The writers, however, give it a real decent shot by having O’Brien following Bilby’s family so doggedly in “Prodigal Daughter.” It’s an interesting character arc for him and the only real problem with his part in this episode is that he does not address how Keiko must be doing in his absence.

That said, while the O’Brien arc is interesting, the episode truly is an Ezri episode. “Prodigal Daughter” gives Nicole de Boer the chance to shine and that is through her playing the character with less of a sense of confusion. Babbling less, de Boer is able to slowly recharacterize Ezri as someone who is plausibly a counselor and actually interesting. She makes it work in “Prodigal Daughter” and de Boer and Colm Meany play off one another surprisingly well.

Even so, it’s not a superlative episode . . . in pretty much any way. “Prodigal Daughter” is good, but not terribly exciting. It is, however, at least worth watching.

[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 visit my Star Trek Review Index Page!

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

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