"Patterns of the Soul" Review
First Published: 07/08/99
"Patterns of the Soul" is a solid episode if you overlook its several flaws. The most important feature is that we finally get to see Marjean Holden's character, Dr. Chambers.
The Excalibur is rerouted by an Earth Force general to investigate a group of colonists who left Earth during the Drakh attack and may be infected. Gideon's mission is complicated by two factors: the presence of a second group on the planet who may have been infected by the colonists and suspicions that the general may not be telling Gideon the whole truth about his motives for taking the colonists into custody.
Dr. Chambers plays a large role in this episode since she must diagnose whether the colonists are infected. Marjean Holden turns in a performance which, while not spectacular, is acceptable for someone so new to the character. Carrie Dobro is settling into Dureena's shoes well, portraying sincere emotion when she makes her shocking discovery.
It is refreshing that instead of finding a convoluted Catch-22 type solution to the problem, Captain Gideon takes the simplest approach, which turns out to be effective and makes perfect sense. However, we must wonder if the general will check up on Gideon's story.
On the down side, this episode has several problems. First, why is the Excalibur selected for this mission? The general should have selected a captain he could trust more, even if the order truthfully came from President Sheridan. Second, the blood test to determine infection takes several hours, but the doctor is seen later using a handheld device that beeps when it is near contaminated food. Third, Gideon transmits the communication with the escaping ship to the general. Dr. Chambers is clearly seen in the background. When she turns up alive, the general will know he's been tricked.
The most unforgivable flaw is the nano-shield. Please, Joe, this is just too Star Trek. Did this really get past the science advisors at JPL? Obviously the purpose is to not hide the actors behind breathing masks, but surely there is a better solution. This technology could be abused too easily in future episodes and also reduces the apparent danger of the plague.
Good performances from the two leaders of the renegade colonists help to overshadow this episode's flaws, setting it firmly in the middle of the five episodes shown to date.