the story: The crew must keep communications open with a Starfleet captain stranded and in desperate need of help.
what it's all about: If the preceding episode ("Time's Orphan") was a nice if safe sci-fi episode in a series that usually geared itself more toward human stories, "The Sound of Her Voice" manages to be both, and by the time you've seen its ending, I think you'll agree that it's a classic, too.
It's an example of a sci-fi twist that deepens rather than cheapens the impact of the storytelling, what M. Night Shyamalan later made a whole film career around. No, I won't spoil it here, but speaking of spoilers, it's also the rare chance for Star Trek to allude to future events, in this case the very next episode, "Tears of the Prophets," the season finale in which the circumstances of "Voice" are echoed in bittersweet fashion.
It's a kind of slice-of-life episode, since part of what the plot enables is the crew talking about their problems, so that on one level it's just an episode about people talking, which would seem boring, but again, once you make it to the end, you'll find it poignant beyond belief.
I don't mean to dance around what happens in "Voice," but seeing it for yourself is kind of vital to the experience.
So in the meantime, Deep Space Nine gets to do what it does best, which is just spend time with its characters, a luxury Next Generation attempted at various points, to mixed results, and what Voyager and Enterprise subsequently wove into their storytelling as well, so that the characters really mattered and weren't just there to serve the plot. That is Deep Space Nine's greatest legacy, and in a lot of ways, "Voice" is where you might best see it in action.
- franchise - A great twist casual fans will love.
- series - Reflective of what Deep Space Nine was all about, and what it passed on to later series.
- character - Every member of the cast gets a chance to shine.
- essential - Just too clever to deny.
Debra Wilson (Captain Cusak)
Penny Johnson (Kasidy)