DS9 Season 1 Ep15: “Progress”

Synopsis: We open on Jake and Nog playing cards in Quark’s, where Quark is ranting to Rom about yamok sauce, a Cardassian delicacy. Apparently Rom ordered a lot of it, and it’s an acquired taste to the degree that only Cardassians will eat it (mmmmm…tastes like genocide). This argument is distracting Nog, especially when Quark says he’s going to deduct half of Rom’s paycheck every week for the next six years to pay for the losses. I thought that Nog was sad that his dad was getting yelled at, but apparently something entirely different was going on in his little hamster wheel brain: he tells Jake that that’s a shitload of yamok sauce, and they could maybe get four or five bars of gold-pressed latinum out of it. Jake, naturally, runs off to help him in this latest venture which I’m sure will be totally successful and in no way hilariously bumbled.

In the grownup world, Sisko voices over that Bajor is about to make its first large-scale energy transfer, whatever that means, and the Federation is going to help. Apparently they’re going to tap the molten core of one of Bajor’s moons, and the energy from that is going to heat a couple hundred thousand Bajoran homes for Christmas. How did they decide who gets free heat? Is there some sort of Bajoran poverty line you can be below? Was their planet so devastated by the occupation that that couple hundred thousand people are the only ones under that line on the whole planet?

Anyway, the Bajoran Bureaucrat they’ve got in Ops is all nervous about it going well, and Kira and Sisko assure him several times that everybody here’s a professional. Then Kira has to jet off to the moon with Jadzia to inspect it.

On the runabout, Jadzia confides in Kira that barfly Morn asked her out to dinner, and she said no, but she thinks he’s cute anyway. Kira makes a face like she’s going to vomit, but before she can, they detect life on the surface of the moon (from which I think everybody was supposed to have evacuated by now) and she has to beam down there to see what’s up.

She gets down there and it’s all old-timey water pumps and flowers and shit, and the underscoring even goes all idyllic for a minute to make sure we feel like she’s just beamed into Amish country. But oh, no, suddenly two old people are menacing her with…hoes? They’re some sort of farm implements, I guess? But both they and the old people look about as scary as – well, as old people holding gardening tools, that is to say, not at all. I’m not sure why Kira looks so troubled, she could take ’em.

After the credits, an old guy steps out of the house and says that his friends just don’t like uniforms. Kira is all, “how about we have a conversation about this after your octogenarian goons take their steel forks offa me?” the guy calls off the Octogenarian Goons, but won’t let Kira in the house because he says he doesn’t like uniforms either. This is as opposed to all of the Bajorans we’ve seen who so love authority and have notably even tempers about it.

Kira is all, “you were supposed to be off this moon by now,” and the guy is all, “that’s nice, I have crops to harvest, see you later, girl” and then she lunges in the door like the most badass Jehovah’s witness ever. She says she does not take kindly to being called “girl,” and he pretends like he didn’t hear her and keeps talking about Catterpod Beans. He finally invites her in, and says they can talk about him not evacuating over dinner.

Pictured: high finance

On the station, Jake and Nog get very excited to spot a freighter captian guy who is apparently part of a race that has a trade agreement with Cardassia. Jake and Nog try to sell him their “original, not replicated” yamok sauce for five bars of gold-pressed latinum, but the freighter captain guy says he doesn’t have any (driver carries no cash) so he’ll have to trade them 100 gross of self-sealing stembolts. Nog doesn’t think it’s worth it, but Jake convinces him to take the deal. Nog is very happy for about ten seconds, and then Jake reminds him that they still have to come up with a way to get Quark’s yamok sauce. Good to know Fetch Quests haven’t gotten any better three hundred years from now.

In the Little House on the Bajor, the Old Farmer is hobbling around his (pretty sweet) kitchen, performing vital functions like putting space fruit in bowls and sort of batting it around. He says that the roots he’s making for dinner take three hours to soften, telling Kira that “you don’t want to eat your roots hard” (insert innuendo of choice here). Kira slaps a pained smile on her face and says she’s in no hurry. She tells Dax to head back to the station, because she has to stay for supper and will be a while, and Dax is all “get you some! Bow chicka wowow!”

Old Farmer, following the My Dad model, puts Kira to work washing and peeling vegetables, and she notes that the Octegenarian Goons don’t talk much. “Oh, they don’t talk at all,” the Old Farmer responds, in a way that somehow makes me feel that it’s because he’s hand-removed their vocal cords and turned them into scarecrows.

Pictured: Carnivorous Rastipod,
never heard of again

No, silly me, it has something to do with the Cardassians, of course. The Octegenarian Goons fled to the moon about twenty years ago, the Old Farmer has been here much longer. He then orders Kira to stop what she’s doing (she has cleaned precicely one vegetable) and set the table. Kira just does, with no complaint. We’ve talked before about how suggestible Kira is, and I am beginning to become concerned that this is some sort of  Shaker-style sect at best and some sort of Onieda-style cult at worst. Like, they’re probably really excited to have an under-sixty participant now for their daily orgies. Confirming my suspicions, the Old Farmer says that Kira looks “real good, even from this angle,” (the angle is her ass) but “walks like a carnivorous rastipod.”

Kira turns to yell at him, but he gives her a “hey, I’m just a cute old man!” smile, and she smiles indulgently and says, “you’re just trying to make me mad!” Yes. And when has that ever not worked? Kira says he’s not going to get rid of her, and then she actually gets around to introducing herself. He insists on her first name, which is Nerys (nair-EEESE), if you were curious.

Kira starts pitching him evacuation on the grounds that tapping the moon would benefit thousands, and he says he stopped caring about other people and Bajor forty years ago when he escaped a Cardassian labor camp. Kira tries to sell him on how awesome it would be to come and live on Bajor, and he’s all “THE LAND, KATIE SCARLETT,” and says he’d rather just die on his farm.

Watch out, Success Kid, there’s a new meme in town

Back on the station, Quark is yelling at Nog for giving a customer a free refill, which does not put Nog in a strong bargaining position for getting his hands on Quark’s yamok sauce. He tries decepiton, saying he just needs to store something else and maybe he could put it on top of the yamok sauce, and then he suggests that he could haul the yamok sauce to the “Matter Reclamation Unit” for Quark. Nog gets his permission when a frustrated Quark barks “anything! Just get it out of my sight!” Then he tells Nog, grudgingly, that he’s a good boy. Nog beams, but I think it rings false that Quark isn’t suspicious that his nephew is suddenly altruistic – then again, altruism is a vice in Ferengi culture, and he already thinks Nog and Rom are worthless, anyway, so maybe it makes sense. Incidentally, Nog and Jake do an awesome fist-pump to each other across the bar.

At dinner on the farm, the Old Farmer is telling the story of his escape from prison camp. I get the feeling that that is all Bajorans ever talk about at dinner. Anyway, the Old Farmer escaped here, and he didn’t have any tools or anything, and I guess he was the only person on the whole moon, and he has all these colloquial stories that sound just like the ones your grandparents told about the Depression (“I just tightened by belt every 26 hours, and my belly didn’t know it was hungry!” Sure you did).

Just like Norman Rockwell, but with
more recounting of war crimes

So, anyway, Kira is charmed by his storytelling and fortitude, smirking at him like he is, in fact, her grandpa. Then he invites her to tell her story of Cardassians Suck: And Other Attendant Hardships (again, I suspect this is a common script of Bajoran entertaining). She talks about having to be a fighter, blah-blah-blah, and the Old Farmer is like “sorry I missed all the fun!” and Kira, as she always does, gets her dander up at the suggestion that the occupation was anything but awful, even though she and every Bajoran we’ve ever met totally gets off on being a scrappy underdog.

She says they only beat the Cardassians because they “hung on like fanatics,” and the Old Farmer smiles all like, “see! I have taught you a valuable lesson about why I should not have to leave thus land I have basically been squatting on for forty years so that you can keep poor people from freezing!”

Kira tries again to convince him to evacuate, explaining that tapping the crust will make the air unbreathable, and he again deflects, talking about kilns and shit. The Old Guy says that she didn’t give into the Cardassians, and he’s not giving into her. This is where we see a really interesting dynamic at work: Kira has become The Man. She is being forced to confront the fact that if it were only a few years earlier and this were her Squatter’s Farm, she would be doing the exact same thing the Old Farmer is doing. This is one of the earliest examples in the series of Kira being forced to confront herself and her beliefs, and, while it isn’t the best example, it’s a pretty good one.

On the station, Jake and Nog are looking at their self-sealing stembolts with awe and wonder. Jake thinks it may be problem that they don’t know anything about self-sealing stembolts, but Nog says all that’s important is that it’s high-grade merch, baby.

Just then, Irishy comes in and asks what these things are doing in the cargo bay, and Nog says they’re Quark’s, and then an amusing little dance occurs where Nog and Jake try to tease out of Irishy what self-sealing stembolts actually do, while pretending to be disinterested. “What does he need them for?” Irishy asks, and Nog says, “Oh, you know, the usual…why does anybody use self sealing stembolts?” Unfortunately for them, Irishy says that he never uses self-sealing stembolts and he’s never even seen one.

“What for? Oh, just, y’know…the manual seals weren’t getting the job done.”

As Irishy departs, Nog and Jake decide that their best course of action is to try to sell the self-sealing stembolts to the Bajoran who originally ordered them, at a steep discount, of course.

Kira comes back to the station looking resigned, and goes into Sisko’s office to deliver the bad news to Sisko and the Bajoran Bureaucrat that Old Farmer won’t go. Sisko asks if they can incentivise the evacuation any further, and Kira suggests that more time to work out a deal might be helpful. The Bureaucrat says that they can’t wait, because Christmas is coming up, I guess, and wants to beam the Old Farmer directly off the surface. Kira argues that this is unethical, and the Bearaucrat is all, “I don’t really care.”

Kira is all, “THEN WE HAVE BECOME THE CARDASSIANS, HOW DO YOU LIKE THAT.” Sisko is all, “damn, I was hoping we could get through this meeting without Godwinning,” and the Bearaucrat accuses Kira of becoming emotionally involved and threatens to assign someone who’ll get the job done. Kira sadly says that won’t be necessary.

“Hey, remember that time you wanted
to talk and I insisted on telling you little
parables instead? Good times.”

She returns to Squatter’s Farm with some Bajoran muscle, who she warns to be very careful and polite. Old Farmer comes out and asks if she’s going to shoot him, because she has has phaser, and he looks generally disappointed in her. Kira tries to convince him again that Bajor is awesome, and the Old Guy is all “Heh, heh, heh, let me share a pointless colloquialism with you, I know how you love them so,” and tells her that she has divided loyalties. While they’re talking, he starts tiling the kiln he was talking about building earlier, so I guess that’s his preferred method of ignoring reason.

Just then, the Bajoran muscle returns dragging the Octegenarian Goons, claiming the Goons poked them with farm implements. Pussies. This sends the Old Farmer into a homicidal rage, and the Muscle is forced to shoot him. Kira is very upset, and yells to beam him to the station sickbay. I can already see the threads on Bajoran reddit.

“We’re about to trade in our shovel for a boomerang!”

On the station, Nog and Jake have rigged up some sort of transmitter to talk to the Bajoran, who says he will give them a substantial piece of land for the stembolts. Nog says that that’s still no profit and he wants gold-pressed latinum. Jake says he thinks that they are almost at the end of their fetch quest, and agrees to the deal. The Bajoran says he’ll send them the titles for the land later in the day and signs off. Jake is all, “Land!” and Nog is all, “Useless dirt,” and I’m all, “I see what you did there, show.”

Bashir has beamed down to Squatter’s Farm, and is telling the Old Farmer that he has to take it easy because he’s really hurt. The Old Farmer seems displeased that Bashir is also wearing a uniform (I guess he prefers his doctors in coveralls) and says, “You’re backwards, Nerys.” Bashir looks shocked at the revelation that Kira has a first name, and Kira stalks out to the garden to be by herself (maybe she’s going to put some grout on the kiln to avoid her feelings).

Bashir explains that the Octegenarians have been relocated to Bajor, and that he should really take the Old Farmer to the station, and the Old Farmer refuses. Bashir goes outside and tells Kira that he’s going to take the Old Farmer without his permission, because Medical Ethics, and Kira is all, “I’m part of this cult now, son, he ain’t goin’ nowhere nohow.” Bashir is like, “that sounds like a bad idea,” and Kira starts tiling the kiln. Called it!

“Can’t talk, got a kiln to tile in my
inexplicably sexy under-uniform.”

In Sisko’s office, Bashir is perplexed at Kira’s behavior. Sisko is not. He very much has a “I should have known this was going to happen” face. He says he’s going to tell the Bearaucrat that Kira is staying on the moon as a Home Heathcare Worker at Bashir’s request, and Bashir is all, “but that would be LYING!” and Sisko says, “then make it true, please.” Bashir hilariously makes the request, which Sisko hilariously says he’ll consider.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, Kira is working through her feelings with the Old Farmer, and she has so become part of him that she is now relating colloquial analogies. She says that where she grew up (the concentration camp?) there was a big nasty tree that apparently ruined the ecosystem around it somehow. Anyway, the tree is the Old Farmer and Kira is conflicted, moving on. Sisko comm badges in to Kira and says he is beaming down, and when she objects he tells her that someone is beaming somewhere, her choice.

Sisko is immune to the power of the
apocryphal

He’s a classy guy, so he beams into the front yard and knocks. The Old Farmer answers the door and tells Sisko that Kira doesn’t want to see him, and says that he’s delighted to be causing so much trouble. Oh, Sisko is going to lock this situation down so hard. He says he’s only there because he is concerned about Kira, and asks to see her out in the front yard. The Old Farmer starts to tell Sisko Kira’s tree story (to her embarrassment) but Sisko actually stares at him so hard that he stops. I wish I could do that.

In the front yard, Sisko muses that he can see why Kira likes the Old Farmer (because they’re both kind of dicks, presumably), and she immediately goes to her kiln. Sisko refuses to be put off, and tells her that he doesn’t know how he’s going to do all the paperwork without her (oh, enticing, Sisko, go on). He says he understands that Kira basically is the Old Farmer, but that she’s the Man now and she needs to get over herself.

Then HE shares a personal story! Will these never end! This is not a campfire at a company retreat, this is Star Trek! He says that he thought that Kira was a dick when he met her, but now he knows she’s awesome and that both he and Bajor need her, and that Old Farmer can just be as crotchety as he wants, it has nothing to do with her. Kira is crying a little, and says thak you, and he says there’s a runabout standing by when she’s ready.

Later that evening, Kira is tending to the Old Farmer, who seems like he’s sundowning, flashing back on Cardassian stuff. Kira attends to him tenderly, and he continues to be all crotchety, all like, “leave me alone! Nevermind, come back!” He makes her sleep in the rocking chair next to his bed.

He cannot die soon enough to suit me.

On the station, Jake and Nog are playing cards, and Nog is lamenting how cash poor they are. Jake gets frustrated (I guess because he’s explained landownership like, eight times already this afternoon), and says that land is better than bolts, because you can build things on it.

Elsewhere in the bar, Odo is explaining to Quark that the Bajoran government has a problem with a piece of land they want to buy – because it is apparently owned by four different people. Three of them have agreed to sell, but the government can’t contact the fourth owner, the Noh-Jay Consortium, which Odo suspects Quark is a part of. The boys, overhearing, become extremely excited that the land value is suddenly so high (Jake: “I told you!”).

Quark denies that he’s in any way involved, but that he’s going to say he is for the money, saying, “tell the Bajorans I will be opening negotiations shortly.” Weirdly, Odo does not seem to have a problem with this. Nog and Jake, skulking unsubtly in the background, overhear the whole thing.

After Odo leaves, Quark muses to himself about who it could be. “Who on this station is clever enough…” Nog approaches, “Uncle Quark?” “NOT NOW, SIRIUS BUNESS.”

Pictured: putting the pieces together

Nog silkily says that he has a business oppurtunuty, and that it will only cost Quark five bars of gold pressed latinum to get in on it. You can actually see Quark put the pieces together here, and you can see that he is completely gobsmacked at the grinning Noh-Jay Compendium standing before him.

At the farm, Kira wakes up to find the Old Farmer finishing up his goddamn kiln. I have to wonder if this, too, is some sort of Bajoran family tradition. Does everyone’s dad always have a running DIY project he can go work on if you ever try to talk to him about something?

He deflects some more, and offers her breakfast. Kira says there isn’t time, and signfigantly hands him the last tile, saying, “last one.” He says it’s time to fire it up, and now I’m sort of wondering if it’s his own Secret Crematorium. Kira says that he’s finished his work and now she has to finish hers. He says that he’s staying as long as the cottage is standing (set it on fire, Kira, go, go!) and she responds by shooting off the roof of his kiln. No! Now he’ll have to stay and fix it!

FINISH HIM

She says she’s saving his life, no arguments, and she takes a stick and uses the fire from the kiln to (YES!) set his house on fire. He’s looking at her like no one ever called him on his bullshit before, and says all sadly, “so you choose your uniform over me.” Whiny. Little. Bitch. She just saved your goddamn life, dude.

She says it’s time for them to get on with their lives, and he says that if he leaves, he’ll die, so she should just shoot him. “Two to beam up,” Kira says. Good girl, Kira!

Tim’s Analysis: Today on character development theatre, Kira learns what it’s like to become the man and finds that it’s not always the wrong thing to do. As a resistance fighter, she did some horrible things for the greater good and here she finds that those same principles are guiding her to kick an old man off his land. That’s not to say she sympathizes with the Cardassian occupation, though. Don’t you worry, we still have dozens of episodes about that to look forward to.

This is one of those episodes I hated as a young teenager and liked more and more each time I rewatched it a little older. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve spotted more in it or because I’ve been further along in the same journey Kira is taking here. I’m not sure I want to know.

Meredith’s Analysis: This episode really frustrates me, because I am, in fact, the Man. Unlike Tim, who was heavily influenced by The Dead Poet’s Society as a young person, I was born forty and in a suit jacket, so I figure now I’m more than sixty and I don’t have to put up with shit like this idiot old man and his idiot refusal to evacuate because oh it’s his home and oh everyone on Bajor is so mean. It’s self-indulgent claptrap, is what it is, and the only bright spot in this whole thing (other than the Nog and Jake subplot, which I love) is that Kira begins to agree with me, just a little.

Needs of many > needs of few, or one (whiny old man).

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3 thoughts on “DS9 Season 1 Ep15: “Progress”

  1. Pingback: DS9 Season 1 Ep16: “If Wishes Were Horses” | Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek

  2. Pingback: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine | Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek

  3. Pingback: DS9 Season 1, Ep19: “Duet” | Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek

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