Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Character Insight No. 128: Best of Miles Obrien

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we go back to the "Best Of" series with a look at the most notable episodes featuring Miles O'Brien of TNG and DS9.

 ("The only Irishman who makes it to major character status in all of Star Trek") 

Miles shows up as more of a background character for the first couple seasons of TNG, and indeed, part of that was because actor Colm Meaney liked being hired on an episode-by-episode basis rather than a long run. However, shortly after he becomes a more important player as Transporter Chief, we learn he is subject to the risks of the honey-do list just like all other engaged and married men, in the episode Clues:

[O'Brien has hurt his arm]
Doctor Beverly Crusher: What on earth were you doing when you fell?
Chief Miles O'Brien: Hanging a plant for Keiko. It's part of her running project to give me a green thumb.
Doctor Beverly Crusher: How's it working?
Chief Miles O'Brien: Everything I touch seems to turn brown and wither away. 

Miles does have a sense of humor in this role, such as when he punks with yet another cranky old doctor who doesn't like the transporter in Shades of Gray:

[Dr. Pulaski reluctantly mounts the transporter platform]
Chief Miles O'Brien: I hope these are the right coordinates...
[she gives him an alarmed look]
Chief Miles O'Brien: Just kidding, Doctor. I know how much you love the transporter.
Dr. Kate Pulaski: About as much as I love comical transporter chiefs.

He raises his children with much the same wit and sense of humor, as shown in the DS9 episode Children of Time:

 Molly: Aren't you gonna help?
Chief O'Brien: I'm busy.
Molly: You don't look busy.
Captain Sisko: [laughs] She's an O'Brien all right.

It's not all fun and games though, as one of O'Brien's best character building pieces is Hard Time, an episode where Miles has trouble adjusting back to real life and nearly commits suicide in the process of PTSD.

[Chief O'Brien is holding a phaser under his chin, preparing to commit suicide]
Dr. Julian Bashir: Chief?
Chief Miles Edward O'Brien: Get outta here, Julian.
Dr. Julian Bashir: You don't want to do this, Chief.
Chief Miles Edward O'Brien: The hell I don't.
Dr. Julian Bashir: Look, I don't claim to know what you're going through, but whatever it is, it's not worth dying for.
Chief Miles Edward O'Brien: You don't understand at all. I'm not doing this for me. I'm doing it to protect Keiko and Molly and everyone else on this station.
Dr. Julian Bashir: Protect us from what?
Chief Miles Edward O'Brien: From me. I'm not the man I used to be. I'm dangerous. I nearly hit Molly today. All she wanted was a little attention, and I nearly hit her.
[He begins to sob]
Dr. Julian Bashir: But you didn't. You're a good man, Miles Edward O'Brien, and whatever it is you think you've done wrong, you don't deserve to die.

However, when it comes down to it, Miles is a great operations and transporter chief who is incredibly loyal to his crewmates and to his family. We learn about how he mentors best friend Julian Bashir to enjoy such family relationships near the end of DS9, in the episode Extreme Measures:

Chief O'Brien: Well, I'd better get home. Keiko is holding dinner for me.
Doctor Bashir: This late?
Chief O'Brien: Yeah, well, she's a helluva woman.
Doctor Bashir: That's why you love her.
Chief O'Brien: M-hm, that's right - that's why I love her.
[he is about to leave but comes back once more]
Chief O'Brien: You wanna come?
Doctor Bashir: Sure. 

Feedback can be sent to me with future segment suggestions on Twitter @BuckeyeFitzy. Until next time, live long and prosper...

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