WhispersBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 12, 2004 - 4:15 PM GMT
See Also: 'Whispers' Episode Guide
O'Brien returns from a mission to find that everyone on the station is acting suspiciously. Kira and Dax conspire behind his back Keiko is cold to him, Molly runs away from contact. Bashir refuses to be friendly, Sisko tries to divert him from his work. It's as if replicants have replaced the real people.
However, when he takes a shuttle and investigates, O'Brien comes face to face with...himself. He is the replicant, sent to infiltrate and sabotage Deep Space Nine; the real O'Brien was only recently discovered by the crew, which had been tipped off but had no way to prove that the man who had returned to them was not O'Brien. The replicant asks his double to tell Keiko he loves her before his death.
This episode rounded out O'Brien for me; the only other time I liked him so much was the TNG episode with his old anti-Cardassian captain. The structure was mediocre, the voice-overs really started to drag, the scenes with Keiko went excruciatingly slowly, and I got pretty bored with the phasers-and-force-fields chase (ENOUGH already). The gratuitous menacing looks and shadowy corridors added little suspense, since they were so unsubtle; the slightly-off characterization didn't work either because I assumed it was just bad writing when Sisko, Kira, etc., acted like pissy version of themselves.
But O'Brien evoked complete empathy, especially his hurt when Molly ran away from him and Sisko went behind his back. I was unprepared for the moving ending. O'Brien was the perfect choice as the victim in this episode because his characterization is so consistent; it was easy to see that he was being mistreated, and to understand why he took the steps he did to figure out what was happening. Unlike some of the other characters, he doesn't have any past which might interfere with his committment to Starfleet. I wish Colm Meaney got more to do on this series.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.