Bringing In Some Big Players
"Badda-Bing, Badda-Bang" Plot Summary:
While Bashir and O'Brien are trying to talk Vic into joining their holographic Alamo expedition, gangsters suddenly take over the lounge. An old enemy of Vic's named Frankie Eyes shows up, announces that he bought the hotel, and warns Vic to get out before things get ugly. "You're finished in this town!" he crows. O'Brien tries to delete the character and then shut down the program, to no avail; a programmer named Felix has created a "jack-in-the-box," a surprise twist embedded in the holoprogram to make it more interesting. If they manage to get rid of Frankie within the confines of the program, it will reset to its original parameters...but if the program is shut down or if Vic is killed in the course of the scenario, they'll lose him forever.
Since Vic is a good friend of Nog's, was responsible for getting Odo and Kira together, and makes Julian's favorite music, the entire command crew is interested in helping him - well, all but Sisko, who wants them to get back to work. The group dresses in 20th century Vegas lounge garb and sets out to spy on Frankie, learning that he is controlled by a Mob boss named Zemo, and that he keeps his profits in a counting room guarded by three people. While Kira uses her feminine wiles to get into Frankie's confidence and Dax takes a job as a waitress, Odo does shapeshifter tricks to impress the bouncers and Kasidy Yates flirts with a guard to make sure she can distract him if need be.
Sisko's not happy that his girlfriend is involved in the holoprogram, finally explaining that it's not just the waste of time: in the 1960s, when the civil rights movement was still in its infancy, people of color weren't even welcome in casinos except as performers or busboys. Kasidy points out that that was history - this is a chance to fix the past, to be freed from any restrictions except the ones they impose on themselves. When the scheme to topple Frankie needs someone to play a high roller in the casino in order to steal the money Frankie owes Zemo, the captain agrees to take on the role.
The group concocts an elaborate scheme to distract the guards, break into the counting room and steal the money (using Julian's medical equipment, Nog's superior hearing, and Odo's shapeshifting talents), but after several rehearsals where all goes smoothly, the actual execution is a disaster: not only does Ezri drop a drink, not only does Nog have trouble breaking into the safe, not only does Zemo arrive a night early, but Kasidy's accusations against O'Brien to distract a guard are taken too seriously and the chief is strip-searched. Sisko manages to distract the crowd by giving money away while the safe is robbed, so that when Frankie and Zemo finally enter to find the Mafia's cut missing, Zemo's goons take Frankie out back to give him what he deserves. The program resets to Vic's classier lounge, everyone drinks champagne, and Sisko performs a duet with the singer.
It ain't deep, and it ain't really good sport to set a man up for execution by a criminal syndicate even if he is only a hologram, but it's definitely more fun than Bashir's James Bond holo-serial, and only about on par in terms of the treatment of women...yes, I know I should overlook the fact that the three female regulars were reduced to playing a gold-digging moll, a hard-luck waitress, and a flirtatious Southern damsel in distress, but given Sisko's speech about the racism of the era, I found it ironic that he didn't point out the sexism to Kasidy as well. Also, if we're being ultra-P.C., which is how that speech of Sisko's struck me even though I am often accused of that myself, should Italians from South Philly be offended by this episode? Let's face it, Kira and Dax should never have been playing Renaissance damsels, and O'Brien and Bashir should be hung out to dry for their Alamo fantasies by such standards. No, I'm not sorry Sisko wants to remember his history, but one might wish for a little more cultural sensitivity all-around.
This was fun in the way that Specter of the Gun was fun, and it was considerably better-written than the Classic Trek episode. I liked the casual affection among the characters, the steadiness of the relationships between Sisko and Kasidy and Kira and Odo - there was little overt intimacy but lots of subtle contact and chemistry - and it's always a treat to see this crew out of uniform, especially in funny shots like the slo-mo parade down the Promenade. And we got to hear Avery Brooks sing! OK, so it was out of character; no more than when Vic's holographic Kira sang for Odo.
I want to meet this holoprogrammer Felix. I have some suggestions for him. I get the feeling we're going to need some levity before we head into Section 31 conspiracies next week, and then the arc which will conclude this series, which will be a huge loss for Trek and for television.
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