At least four Federation ambassadors are on their way to a fact-finding mission in the Gamma Quadrant. Sisko assigns Bashir to keep the annoying ones (and they can be quite trying) out of his hair (as it were).
It turns out that Lwaxana is not one of the annoying ones and that is part of what is so great about this episode. Lwaxana Troi (played by Gene Roddenberry’s widow Majel Barrett) has, in my opinion, always been strongest when she was taking things at least somewhat seriously, when she was a real person. TNG’s “Half a Life” is an excellent example and quite touching. This episode brings that out once again. While her recollection of the events of “Ménage à Troi” are a little different than mine, the way “The Forsaken” treats her is very endearing. I’ll even go so far as to say that when she first comes on to Odo in his office, she’s sexy.
Speaking of which, it’s also a great episode for Odo. We learn a lot about what it was like for him before he served on DS9 and how being a lab rat and party play thing shaped is personality. He and Lwaxana become vulnerable together and each grows as a result. Additionally, there is a scene in Quark’s that shows off his skills as the station’s chief law enforcement officer.
The other plot, with O’Brien, is okay. I love O’Brien as a character and we get a lot of frustrated O’Brien in this episode and it’s entertaining. There’s a great homage to “2001: A Space Odyssey” as pieces of the computer are manually removed. However, I’m not sure all of the technobabble holds up. Also, in the end, he shunts the backup systems into the dog house with the probe’s programming. What happens when they need the backup systems? I’ll bet it’s magically not an issue.
When Lwaxana gets in the turbolift with Odo, we get to see their perspective as it is in motion. I think this is the first time we got to see that.
As for the annoying ambassadors, if these are the representatives of their planets, you might expect them to be more representative of the best of those worlds. Of course, in our time, we have ambassadorial nominees who don’t even speak the language of the country to which they would be assigned. Alternatively, it could be a case of “The Frisco Kid,” a movie where the most annoying rabbi in the class (Gene Wilder) is the one sent to a synagogue all the way in San Francisco.
Speaking of the ambassadors, I’ll end on this note. When things get really rough, Bashir thinks fast and saves their lives. It’s not a bad episode for him.
– Evan Bindelglass