Friday, April 16, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"The Visitor"

“The Visitor” is DS9’s shot at recreating the feel of TNG’s “The Inner Light.” They came darn close, too. It is one of the best episodes thus far and the best as far as personal stories go in the series. Fans and critics may like it, but “The Visitor” fell short I the awards department. It was nominated for a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, but lost to Babylon 5’s “The Coming of Shadows.” If memory serves, that was a worthy installment of B5. To add insult to injury, ’The Visitor” was also nominated for a Best Make Up in a Series Emmy, but lost to--brace yourselves--VOY‘s ”Threshold,” likely the worst episode in Trek history.

But what ’The Visitor” lacks in awards, it makes up for in heart.

The episode begins I the far future. Elderly Jake is living as a recluse at the Sisko family home in New Orleans. He receives a visitor one rainy night. It is Melanie, his biggest fan and an aspiring writer herself. Melanie is played splendidly by Rachel Robinson, daughter of Andrew “Garek” Robinson. She inherited her father’s acting genes. We would certainly have seen more of her over the years I she had not been more interested I music. She asks Jake why he stopped writing, so he tells her the story of his father’s death.

Sisko takes the Defiant, with Jake along, into the wormhoe in order to iew a phenomenon that occurs once every fifty years. The phenomenon cause a near warp core breach which Sisko prevents, but I a freak accident is pulled into subspace. Everyone assumes he is dead and take a special interest in helping the distraught Jake cope. Even Quark is a sympathetic soul.

When his father begins appearing to him, thendissapearig again, the crew figures out Sisko is trapped I subspace, but they cannot permantly retrieve him. During all this, hostilities with the Klingons escalate to the point the Federation surrenders the Bajoran sector to the Klingons. Jake goes back to Earth to resume life as best hecan, but he never really does.

He is obsessed with rescuing his father. So much so, he abandons hiswriting career to study physics and loses his wifeaong the way. As a middleaged man, he comes up with a plan and convinces Nog, who is now a captain, to let him use the Defiant to recreate the initial accident. It does not work, but he does get to spend a few moments with his father in subspace.

As a much older man, he learns that his fatheris connected to him from subspace as if with an elastic cord. Sometimes, the cord is pulled taut and Jake can bring his father to our universe for a short time. He realizes that if he cuts the cord the next time his father is pulled ito reality, he will return to the actual point of the accident. When his father visits again, Jake commits suicide to break the link. He wars his father what to do differently this time. It works, so the future is erased for all but Sisko’s memories.

I have always liked “The Visitor,” but it means more now than in the past. There does comeatime when you realize people you loved are really gone. You begin to heal from their loss. But having to lose them oer and over again throughout the decades while they stay the same as the last time you saw them must be especially devastating. Considering how long it takes one to heal from a major loss like that of a parent, I can only image how the pain must last.

“The Visitor” is tough to watch, but I appreciate it highly.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

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