“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 19 (“In the Hands of the Prophets”)

I was the like the space Pope. -Actress Louise Fletcher (on how she saw her DS9 character)

[Vedek Winn has asked Keiko O’Brien to refrain from teaching anything that might conflict with Bajoran beliefs]

Keiko O’Brien: I’m a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no.

Keiko O’Brien (Rosalind Chao) is teaching the DS9 kids about the wormhole, when Vedek Winn (veteran actress/Oscar winner Louise Fletcher), one of the most important religious leaders of the Bajorans (and possible candidate to become the next Kai), arrives. She strongly disagrees w/ the scientific way Keiko chooses to explain the phenomenon, calling it “blasphemy.” She convinces the Bajoran parents to remove their kids (who are in the majority) from the school; only Jake and a handful of others remain.

[Jake is questioning the ‘stupidity’ of the Bajoran beliefs, comparing it with the Inquisition during the Middle Ages]

Cmndr. Sisko: You’ve got to realize something, Jake: for over fifty years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian occupation was their faith. The prophets were their only source of hope and courage.

Jake Sisko: But there were no prophets; they were just aliens that you found in the wormhole.

Cmndr. Sisko: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn’t they be considered prophets?

Jake Sisko: Are you serious?

Cmndr. Sisko: My point is, it’s a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn’t make it wrong…

Meanwhile, Chief O’Brien (Colm Meaney) finds an important item missing from his toolkit. He and his assistant, a young Bajoran named Neela (Robin Christopher), start looking for it. They find the tool in a corridor, together w/ the remains of a young ensign! What was he doing in this area? His death may have been an accident, but it seems suspicious to O’Brien.

[a group of Bajorans have arrived at the station]

Quark: Don’t tell me – there’s a Bajoran convention on this station I didn’t know about? Thanks, Odo! I need to call in more dabo girls.

Odo: It’s not a convention. They’re from an orthodox spiritual order coming to support Vedek Winn’s efforts to keep the Bajoran children out of school.

Quark: Orthodox? In that case I’ll need twice as many dabo girls. The spiritual types love those dabo girls!

This ep relates to the debate in US schools about the teaching of Evolution and Creationism in science classes. Both Keiko and Winn are unwilling to give in; perhaps surprising, Kira (Nana Visitor) agrees with Winn’s position. Kira suggests that there should be two schools on the station. Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks) travels to Bajor to seek support from a more tolerant leader, Vedek Bareil (Philip Anglim). He is also a candidate for Kai, but has a different attitude and philosophy than Winn.

Vedek Bareil: Today I am only a vedek. If the Prophets will it, someday I may be Kai. And I can be a better friend to you then.

Cmdr. Sisko: In other words, being my friend now might hurt your chances?

Vedek Bareil: The Prophets teach us patience.

Cmdr. Sisko: It appears they also teach you politics.

This is the S1 finale of DS9; it circles back to issues/events from the pilot (which we learn occurred 7 mos ago). The matte painting from “Emissary” was modified to show that the damage to the Bajoran city had been repaired. The teleplay is by Robert Hewitt Wolfe (who worked on many eps of TNG). An early idea was a crossover w/ TNG and have Sisko, Picard and their crews work together to fight against an invasion by Cardassians. Instead of that external struggle, we have an internal one between the Bajorans themselves.

[1] …is pretty good, with a tightly interwoven set of story lines, further ugly truths about Bajoran culture (and beautiful faith in the goodness of individuals), and some good performances. 

[2] Real stakes and powerful social commentary. This ep gets mega points for being brave enough to address religion with a bit of honesty…

[3] This episode will be relevant forever. There are so many people in this world who use religion/idea/belief as a sword to achieve hidden agendas.

-Excerpts from IMDB comments

“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 18 (“Duet”)

Major Kira: This is my job.

Marritza: Persecuting Cardassians goes far beyond your job, Major; it’s your passion.

The teleplay was written by Peter Allan Fields; he also wrote the TNG eps “The Inner Light”, “Cost of Living”, and “Half a Life.” He wrote “The Forsaken” on DS9. This is ranked as one of the best eps of the entire series (by media critics, sci-fi writers, and fans). Aamin Marritza (veteran character actor Harris Yulin), a Cardassian suffering from Kalla-Nohra, turns to DS9 (and Dr. Bashir) for medical attention. Major Kira (Nana Visitor) goes into the infirmary and immediately recognizes the disease. He could only have contracted it after an accident in the labor camp (Gallitepp) on Bajor during the occupation. Kira helped liberate that camp, so she knows of the atrocities its commander (Gul Darhe’el) committed. Kira is determined to convict Marritza for war crimes; Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks), Odo (Rene Auberjonois), and Bashir (Alexander Siddig) investigate further. The Cardassian first denies having the disease, then claims he was merely a filing clerk at Gallitepp. Sisko faces a tough decision, as the Bajorans wants him convicted, while the Cardassians want him released.

Major Kira: If your lies are gonna be this transparent, it’s gonna be a very short interrogation.

Marritza: Well, in that case I’ll try to make my lies more opaque.

The intent of the ep (as many viewers will have already guessed) was to establish the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor as a metaphor for the German atrocities under the Nazi regime. The ep marks the first mention of the Shakaar resistance cell (of which Kira was a member). We also get to see Gul Dukat (Marc Alaimo) again; he plays a very important role in later seasons. What if this Cardassian is a lowly file clerk? Does he deserve to be persecuted (as if he were a powerful commander)? Early in the story, Kira tells Lt. Dax (Terry Farrell) that she considers all Cardassians (who participated in the occupation of her planet) to be guilty. As Kira and Marritza character engage in a “war of words,” we get strong commentary on the intricacies of war and the roles that are played by both sides.

[1] It is a beautifully written, performed, composed and produced episode.

[2] The central issue is the guilt of the coward: something that we all fear, despise, and yet sympathize with.

[3] The end result of the drama is just as surprising to the viewer as it is to the on-screen characters.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 16 (“The Forsaken”)

[Bashir has been assigned to chaperone a trio of visiting diplomats]

Sisko: Think of it as an opportunity, Doctor. You never know when a friendly ambassador is going to be in the right place at the right time to help your career.

Bashir: Another hour with them could destroy my career!

Sisko: It’s a simple job: just keep them happy, and away from me.

Bashir: Simple? Nothing makes them happy! They are dedicated to being unhappy, and to spreading that unhappiness wherever they go! They are the Ambassadors of Unhappy!

Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig)- the first year senior officer- has to take care of a delegation of (high-maintenance) ambassadors visiting DS9. Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks) didn’t want to deal w/ them, so he gave the job to the eager, enthusiastic doctor. In Quark’s bar, the ambassador from Betazed, gets robbed of her brooch. Majel Barrett Roddenberry (AKA “The First Lady of Star Trek”) has her first guest starring role as Lwaxana Troi. She wears an elaborate blonde wig; she also wore a blonde wig when she played Nurse Chapel in TOS. Odo is able to find the thief; Mrs. Troi is very interested in him! An ongoing joke concerning her love interests recurs here; notice Odo anxiously looking around as he exits a turbolift, fearing running into her. Capt. Picard acted similarly when Mrs. Troi was on board the Enterprise in TNG: “Half a Life.” The story about a brief affair w/ a Ferengi leader refers to events in “Ménage à Troi.”

Lwaxana: Mm. All the men I’ve known have needed to be shaped and molded and manipulated, and finally I’ve met a man who knows how to do it himself.

O’Brien is fed up w/ the (Cardassian-built) computer. It gives opinions on his commands, so he suggests installing a new one to Sisko. An object appears from the Gamma Quadrant which looks like a probe, but has a sophisticated computer. After downloading information from it, O’Brien notices the station’s computer seems to be working better.

Odo: Frankly, in my humble opinion, most of you humanoids spend far too much time on your respective mating rituals.

Sisko: It does help the procreation of one’s species.

Odo: Procreation does not require changing how you smell, or writing bad poetry, or sacrificing various plants to serve as tokens of affection.

The computer starts to malfunction, leaving Odo and Mrs. Troi trapped in a turbolift. Lwaxana, who loves elaborate clothes and seeks romance around every corner, isn’t only played for comedy. On TNG, the Enterprise crew saw her mainly as Counselor Deanna Troi’s overprotective mom. Here we see here as a kind, sensitive, and likable character (underneath the larger-than-life personality). Eventually, Odo tells her about his life, and we see another side of the gruff lawman. The actors have good chemistry in their scenes.

[Lwaxana Troi has taken off her wig]

Lwaxana: No one’s ever seen me like this.

Odo: Why? It looks fine.

Lwaxana: It looks ordinary. I’ve never cared to be ordinary. So you see, Odo, even we non-shapeshifters have to change who we are once in a while.

Odo: You are not at all what I expected.

Lwaxana: No one’s ever paid me a greater compliment.

“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 14 (“Progress”)

Mullibok: You’re halfway pretty.
Kira: Does that mean I can come in?

The teleplay was written by Peter Allan Fields; he also wrote the (much-loved/highly-rated) TNG eps “The Inner Light”, “Cost of Living”, and “Half a Life.” The Federation is helping the Bajorans to tap the core of one of its moons; this will provide energy for many homes (and make the moon uninhabitable). All 47 known inhabitants have been evacuated, but Lt. Dax (Terry Farrell) still detects three life signs. Major Kira (Nana Visitor) beams down to investigate and meets an elderly farmer named Mullibok (Brian Keith) and his two helpers (who are mute due to torture by Cardassians). Mullibok invites her to dinner, tells some tall tales, and explains that he has no intention of leaving. This place has been his home for 40 yrs; he built it up w/ his own hands. Although he’s cranky and stubborn, Kira starts to grow fond of the man. Meanwhile, Nog (Aron Eisenberg) overhears his uncle Quark (Armin Shimerman) punishing his father for buying 5,000 wrappings of yamok sauce (loved by Cardassians, but despised by most others). Secretly, Nog and Jake (Cirroc Lofton) try to sell the stuff for bars of latinum.

Mullibok: You know, you look real good even from this angle. But you know something? You walk like a carnivorous rastipod.

Kira: [unnerved] Now look…! [looks annoyed, but then starts smirking] You’re trying to make me mad!

Mullibok: How am I doing?

Kira: Not well enough to get rid of me.

Mullibok: Damn!

This is a moral dilemma story, which we find commonly in the ST universe. Some viewers recognized the plot from Wild River– a classic movie directed by Elia Kazan- about the Tennnesee Valley Authority and one woman’s refusal to leave her family farm. Time is spent building a bond between Kira and Mullibok. She goes through a lot of emotional turmoil, as she represents the government, but admires this man’s fighting spirit. Kira can’t forget her past in the Bajoran Resistance; some viewers commented that perhaps this man reminds her of someone from those days. There is a fine scene between Kira and Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks) which shows us more of his leadership style. When Mullibok is injured, fighting w/ two security guards, Sisko gives Kira time to look after him.

Sisko: [referring to Kira] I’m going to tell Minister Toran that she’s remained temporarily on Jerrado, at your request.

Bashir: But sir – that isn’t true.

Sisko: Make it true, Doctor. Now, please.

Bashir: [officially] Commander, I’d advise that Major Kira remain on Jerrado for humanitarian reasons… [under his breath] How long?

Sisko: The next day or two.

Bashir: …for the next day or two, sir.

Sisko: Thank you, Doctor. I’ll consider that request. Dismissed.

“Star Trek: DS9”: Season 1, Episode 12 (“Battle Lines”)

Kai Opaka (Camille Saviola), the spiritual leader of the Bajorans (who we met in the pilot), suddenly decides to visit DS9. She doesn’t say so, but Sisko can tell that she’s drawn toward the wormhole. Cmdr. Sisko (Avery Brooks), Dr. Bashir (Alexander Siddig), and Major Kira (Nana Visitor) take a runabout to show her the wormhole and pass through it to the Gamma Quadrant. They receive a distress call, but can’t tell where it’s coming from. Sisko wants to return to the space staion, but Opaka says she doesn’t get out much, so they explore further. They are led to a mysterious satellite network, which releases an energy burst, disabling the runabout. They crash land on a moon where Opaka dies almost instantly! While Kira weeps and sings a mourning song, a group of angry-looking humanoids (the Ennis) approach carrying weapons (cardboard blades w/ balls and old tool handles taped together). The leader, Shel-la (Jonathan Banks), explains that his people been placed here as prisoners, after a long war w/ the Nol-Ennis. They can’t die, but must live to fight (and die) repeatedly.

Bashir: What’s going on?

Sisko: Talks about a ceasefire.

Bashir: No kidding! How’d you arrange that?

Sisko: I told them we’d transport them off this moon.

Bashir: Isn’t that a bit like assisting a jailbreak?

Sisko: I don’t need you to interpret the Prime Directive for me, Doctor.

This is a well-done ep w/ some fine acting; its basic premise of two groups locked in a generations-old fight- w/ Starfleet attempting to make peace- has been done many times in the ST universe. This ep was one of the first to state exactly what the United Federation of Planets is; Sisko explains: “it is made up of over a hundred planets who have allied themselves for mutual scientific, cultural and defensive benefits. The mission that my people and I are on is to explore the galaxy.” Bashir repairs the medical scanner on the runabout, then discovers that the nanotechnology (which keeps people alive) only works at this location. The young doctor also saves Sisko’s life during a brutal fight between the Ennis and Nol.

Kai Opaka: Don’t deny the violence inside of you, Kira. Only when you accept it can you move beyond it.

Kira: I’ve known nothing but violence since I was a child.

Kai Opaka: In the eyes of the Prophets, we’re all children.

Kira: I’m afraid the Prophets won’t forgive me.

Kai Opaka: They’re just waiting for you to forgive yourself.

Kai Opaka (who comes alive) decides that it’s her pagh (“destiny”) to help these warring people “heal.” Kai Opaka is an interesting character; she feels that The Prophets (or wormhole aliens) meant for her to come to this place. The Bajorans had to fight (incl. resulting to acts of terrorism) to survive the long, brutal Cardassian occupation of their planet. They’re a deeply spiritual race and seem to be of a pacifist nature. Kai Opaka and Kira have a strong scene together, as do Sisko and Bashir.