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DS9 2-14

DS9 2x14

Original airdate: 2/6/1994
Rewatch date: 7/3/2013

O'Brien returns from a mission to the Gamma Quadrant to discover that everybody is treating him differently.

Spoiler-free notes:

This episode has a lot in common with TNG's "Conspiracy," "The Game," and "Frame of Mind," but manages to put a unique spin on them. It's a good puzzle show with a great solution, but it plays off of your expectations as a Trek viewer. You assume there's some kind of crazy alien influence going on, that's it's all a simulation, or that it's all happening in O'Brien's head, because that's what Star Trek normally does in situations like this. I'll be honest: even though I know I had seen it at least once if not twice before this rewatch, I was still fooled! It's the best puzzle show in DS9 thus far.

It's a meditation on paranoia, almost feeling like a show about a very specific type of persecutory delusion that often comes with paranoid schitzophrenia, namely Capgras syndrome, the belief that people around you--especially loved ones and relatives--have been replaced by imposters that are acting against you. The wild sci-fi spin on it, of course, is the unreliable narrator twist that it is O'Brien himself who has been replaced by an imposter. I love that.

I also like that this is an episode (along the lines of TNG's "Brothers" and "The Game") in which a member of the crew fights against the rest of the crew in order to escape. In this case, it highlights O'Brien's quick thinking and engineering prowess, and I'm glad he manages to escape, even though I am skeptical that Odo couldn't have stopped him.

But really, I just love this one.

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