Monday, May 15, 2017

Deep Space Nine 7x5 "Chrysalis"

rating: ***

the story: Bashir gets a chance to show the genetically-enhanced but painfully withdrawn Sarina her true potential.

what it's all about: Until the J.J. Abrams reboot movies, I'm not sure how clear it really was that Star Trek was always about characters who were extreme exceptions to society.  It was clear, to a certain extent, in Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, but seeing these characters so often, no matter the stories that made it obvious, tended to dull the impact, because at the end of the day they always had a family to turn to, the crew at the heart of that particular series.  Abrams put the alienation inherent to the lives of Kirk and Spock front and center.  But "Chrysalis" got there first.

"Chrysalis" is a follow-up to "Statistical Probabilities," one of the more innovative war stories from the sixth season, where we first meet the Jack Pack, genetically-enhanced misfits crippled by their genius, riddled with personality quirks that only compounded their problems.  This was very much a Bashir episode, in which the revelations of the still-earlier "Doctor Bashir, I Presume?" were finally made clear.  While "Chrysalis" clearly features Bashir, too, it's almost more Sarina's story.  Sarina had been the least obnoxious member of the Jack Pack (so-called because Jack was the most obnoxious member), because she was more or less in a catatonic state.  She'd had no chance to assert herself.

Bashir pulls an Awakenings (it's a great Robin Williams movie, and it's a great Robert De Niro movie; do yourself a favor and see it if you can't imagine how that can possibly be true) and allows Sarina to flourish, but in doing so she discovers something worse than her previous existence: she no longer fits in with the rest of the Jack Pack. 

The Jack Pack, basically, is Star Trek in all its ideals taken to a ridiculous extreme.  These guys are brilliant, but they overthink everything.  Imagine if all the heroics in the franchise existed only in the minds of the characters (say, Data processing possible outcomes in the span of nanoseconds, expanded into whole episodes).  Now, what happens when you find one of these guys is able to put the nonsense of the acumen aside, and just do it?  Sarina is basically Kirk.  Yeah.  She's basically Kirk, and every other roguish hero in the franchise, every other character capable of cutting through what's merely possible and making the leap of faith into the impossible. 
Maybe I'm not explaining it well.  Suffice to say, but "Chrysalis" is a profile of an outsider realizing they're an outsider.  That better?  Anyway, I think it's one of those episodes that just really had to happen.

criteria analysis:
  • franchise - Speaks to the heart of what Star Trek is really all about, finding your full potential.
  • series - Rounds out several previous episodes.
  • character - Bashir ends up taking a backseat to Sarina.
  • essential - Does for a guest character what proved to be so hard to do for main characters throughout the franchise.
notable guest-stars:
Faith Salie (Sarina)
Tim Ransom (Jack)
Michael Keenan (Patrick)
Hilary Shepard (Lauren)
Aron Eisenberg (Nog)

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