A Voice From Beyond
"The Sound of Her Voice" Plot Summary:
The Defiant picks up a distress call from Captain Lisa Cusack of the Olympia, whose ship was destroyed while investigating an unusual planetary energy barrier during a return voyage from deep-space exploration of the Beta Quadrant. She has been marooned for more than two days on an L-class planet where carbon dioxide is slowly poisoning her as she runs out of tri-ox compound. She begs the crew to keep an open comm line to her while they mount a rescue mission so that she won't be alone, and Sisko agrees. He takes the first "shift," telling her about the war with the Dominion that erupted in her absence and his own problems with Kasidy, who is aboard and making him uncomfortable.
Then Bashir takes over, bored, until he hears Cusack being threatened and an alien voice claiming to have killed her, insisting that Bashir shouldn't care since he wasn't listening anyway. He apologizes to Cusack and tells her about his artificially enhanced brain while advising her on how to ration her tri-ox, much of which was tainted during her crash. O'Brien tells her that he has difficulty talking to his family and friends because the war has made him fearful of losing people, so while they both agree that ship's counselors are awkward, they agree he needs that sort of contact.
Back on the station, Quark asks Odo what he's getting Kira for their one-month anniversary and where he's taking her to dinner, suggesting one of his holosuites. Odo is scornful at first, but agrees when Jake encourages him to do so. Of course, Quark really wants Odo distracted so that he can engage in an illegal sale of Denevan crystals, and Jake wants to observe Quark in order to base a criminal character in a novel on the Ferengi. Odo overhears the scheme, but lets Quark get away with it because he owes him one for helping him get over his despair about Kira and take action. And Kira is delighted to discover a new surprise about Odo...not only that he'd spare Quark, but that he'd think of taking her to a holosuite for their anniversary.
On the Defiant, Sisko makes the decision to divert phaser power to the engines so they can reach the now-unconscious Cusack in time, but when they arrive at the planet, they can't penetrate the metreon energy barrier which destroyed her ship. Sisko, Bashir, and O'Brien decide to take the risk of going down in a shuttle without thrusters, and penetrate the barrier. They find the crash site, but no life signs. When they enter the cave Cusack described, they find her remains...but she's been dead for three years. O'Brien theorizes that the radiation warped subspace, sending her transmissions into the future and their own back to her in the past. They take her back to the station for a Starfleet funeral and an Irish wake suggested by Dax, where O'Brien ominously suggests that one day one of them will die and they'll all need their friends to get through.
Dammit, I really liked Lisa Cusack! There are so few women captains worth keeping on Trek, but like TNG's Rachel Garrett, this one was dead before we even met her. She said some very interesting things that I wish someone could pass along to Janeway. Her first question when Sisko mentioned Kasidy in a romantic context was, "Is she one of your officers?" I guess it's NOT unheard of for starship captains to date their underlings, probably especially on a deep space mission like Cusack's or Janeway's. She agreed that mixing romance and professionalism on the bridge was not for Sisko, since he was so obviously uncomfortable with it - she never was either - but she also made it clear that was a personal decision, not a matter of Starfleet regulations. Apparently she didn't have any real problems with fraternization and had even served with her sister on a starbase...which was uncomfortable for her, but not unworkable. In spite of what she said to O'Brien, she sounded like she didn't need a ship's counselor, because she's very tuned in to people. Why couldn't we have someone like her as an ongoing character, and give women some hope about what they could be like in command positions?
The gimmick of this episode was really dumb - why wouldn't the Defiant have a list of all ships presumed lost, or some way to check about what was going on with the Olympia? Considering that there's a war going on, I spent most of this episode positive she was a spy trying to wring them for tidbits of information, and I am surprised none of them considered that possibility...I would have wanted to do a little checking before risking three people on an away mission where I assumed they were NOT going to find a living Starfleet captain.
What they did find was more powerful and less predictable than the deception I expected, but the gimmick of an energy field that could transmit comm signals into precise spots in the past and future yet didn't affect the shuttle or emit tachyons or some other technobabble time-travel particles seemed pretty silly. "Metreon" was the cascade energy from Voyager's "Jetrel" and meant something completely different there, too. It would have been more powerful if they just didn't get there in time, and found a newly-dead woman...though that would have been a huge downer, and would have made next week's anticipated tearjerker (hyped in the previews: "One of Sisko's crew will die!") all the worse.
"The Sound of Her Voice" was superbly acted and well-directed, particularly the scenes on the ship where characters talking to Cusack could have become stale and stagnant. The tension came as much from expecting a twist in the plot as from actually worrying about what was going to happen to her, so I didn't let myself get really emotionally involved, but the ending was subtle and moving despite the heavy-handed foreshadowing of the death next week and the need for the crew to pull together. The Odo-Quark plot was fluffy and frankly Odo In Love could get a bit boring if he doesn't get some bite back (ditto Kira In Love, though I am loath to say anything negative about this relationship at all because I do so want it to continue). Still, it made a nice counterpoint to the Sisko-Yates romantic problems - Odo and Kira clearly CAN date one another and still work together. Not a deeply memorable episode, but a perfectly respectable one.
Deep Space Nine Reviews