DS9 Season 2, Ep2: “The Circle”

Last Week on Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek: Kira discovered that legendary Bajoran resistance leader Li Nalas was alive in a labor camp on Cardassaia Four, so she requisitioned a runabout and pretended to be a prostitute to save him (it worked!). Back on the station, there’s tension surrounding a Bajoran Supremacy group known as “the Circle,” who express their agenda through viral marketing in the form of graffiti and Ferengi branding, and also Jake Sisko got turned down for a date because his lady friend du jour has a racist dad. After revealing to Sisko that he was always a shitty excuse for a hero, Li Nalas was elected to a government post with the helping hand of Bajoran Minister Richard Nixon, who revealed at the close of the show that Li would be taking over Kira’s job as station liason and Sisko’s second-in-command. Surprise!

Synopsis: We resume with Minister Jaro, whom I prefer to call Minister Richard Nixon, talking to Sisko. He says he thought Sisko would be pleased to be rid of Kira, since he’s heard through the grapevine that she’s a total dick to everyone. Sisko bristles that Kira has his complete respect (really?) and that she’s been invaluable in establishing the station (I wouldn’t go that far), and he absolutely does not appreciate this decision being made without consulting him. That last point is the only one that really matters.

It isn’t that Kira is the best officer, or that Sisko particularly likes her, although he certainly respects her more than he used to. It’s that somewhere along the line she became one of his people, and making decisions about her life without asking him is a violation of his authority. This is one of his distinctions as a captain: when main characters tried to leave the Enterprise for whatever stupid reason, Picard would be all, “oh, it so pains me to hear that, I thought we were friends. But if it will make you happy, I suppose do what you must.” Like that time Dr. Crusher resigned her commission to go live in a cottage and have a sexual relationship with a ghost, Picard only argued a little bit before letting her go, and only found out something was up when he went to check on her because he was sad. On the other hand, when Sisko’s people try to leave for any reason (with one notable exception), he’s all “did I say you were free to go? Get back to your station, we’ll have this conversation when you can be reasonable.”

Minister Nixon tries to argue that he’s actually giving Kira a promotion, and for a moment Sisko seems appeased. But of course, he isn’t, Minister Nixon has no idea who he’s fooling with. Sisko crafts an extremely threatening little metaphor, saying he’s reminded of the old Earth saying “there’s a warm wind blowing in from Minicoy.” Apparently there used to be an ambassador from Minicoy who was a blowhard, and it was indelicate to say “the Minicoian ambassador is full of shit.” See what he did there?

"Long story short, you're a liar."

Sisko asks why Minister Nixon doesn’t want Li staying in the capital, and he says that the Circle is out of control, and it isn’t safe there, and also Li will obviously be the best liason officer ever despite having no experience in the field whatsoever. Just then, Jake calls his dad to request his immediate presence at their quarters. When Sisko arrives, he finds the Circle’s threatening squiggly sperm logo spray painted on their door. Credits!

Meanwhile, Major Kira is in her quarters packing her shit when Odo comes to visit. Odo is really angry that Kira is leaving, but more than that, he’s really angry that she’s not going down swinging. I think this is the most emotional we’ve ever seen Odo, and the first time we truly feel the kinship he has with Kira. They go way back, he respects her and enjoys her company, and it’s tearing him up not only that he won’t see her anymore but that she seems to be going quietly into the night, not displaying any of the wildcard loose cannon traits he so loves about her.

After he rants at her, she quietly says, “I’ll miss you too, Odo.” Awwww. She says she’s sure Sisko will do whatever is best for the station, and that Li Nalas is the best and can do her job just fine. Jadzia comes in to return some moisturizer Kira loaned her, and Kira says she can keep it, and Odo is a flaming ball of rage that the two women can discuss skin care at a time like this. Bashir comes in to say goodbye and wish Kira good luck, and Odo demands to know if Bashir would complain to Sisko if he were in Kira’s place. Bashir seems to have heard the “Kira’s getting a promotion” story, since he seems genuinely confused about why she or anyone would complain.

PARTY TIMES

Odo accuses Kira of not caring about leaving, and Kira protests, setting off an absolute firestorm of supportive nagging, to the degree that Irishy can barely break through the chatter when he comes in to tell Kira that it’s been a pleasure serving with her. Right after he gets it out, Quark bursts in and makes the logical conclusion: “a PARTY! I’d better reduce my catering rates!” Quark has a (small) bottle of Kira’s favorite synthale, which he was hoping they could share in an intimate setting *wink wink*.

Kira’s doorbell rings again, and she throws out a hearty “OPEN FOR BUSINESS,” and is extremely embarrassed when the new visitor is Vedek Bareil, the Hippie Monk introduced in last season’s finale. Bareil says he’d hate to interrupt, and Kira says not to worry because these are her…she pauses for a moment, and her face seems to warm, and then she identifies them as her friends. Even Quark. It’s a really sweet moment.

Bareil regales us with further exposition about how violent and shitty things are on Bajor in his bland, band voice. He invites Kira to come and stay at their monastery if she doesn’t have any better plans. I guess monasteries are co-ed on Bajor since ladies can be priests,  but that suggestion still feels weird to me, not least because places where Vedeks hang out should really be called vedestaries. Kira seems touched by the suggestion.

Later, she walks through an inexplicably deserted Ops, sadly remembering the good times. Li Nalas interrupts her reverie to apologize for taking her job, which he didn’t want. Kira says she didn’t want the job either, at first, but that it turned out well, and she’s sure he’ll be fine. Li, though, has no idea what a “Navarch” (his new position) is supposed to do or who he reports to.

Sisko makes a grand entrance from his office to explain that the Navarch reports directly to the Prophets but helps Sisko out when he needs it. Li says he’s completely at Sisko’s disposal, but that he knows he can’t replace Kira. “No one could,” Sisko intones, and I think I might have gotten something in my eye, guys, just one second.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man
in possession of a space station, must be in want
of a first officer.

Kira requests permission to disembark, and Sisko very deliberately tells her that he’s going to get her back, even if she marries another, because his love for her resembles the eternal rocks; Nelly, he IS KIRA. Did I mention that I’ve been watching a lot of Masterpiece Theater to wind down lately?

We next see the overwrought Bob Ross-style painting with the shimmery water that tells us we are On Bajor, where Kira is trying with little success to build some sort of paving-stone bridge across a pond. She grumbles that it’s crooked, and Bareil tells her that it’s perfect, and Kira exasperatedly says that it isn’t the stones, she’s the one who’s crooked, and it’s not working out. Well, I could have told her that – a Bajoran monastery run by Bareil, the least interesting hippie you’ve ever met, was bound to be the worst possible place for the perpetually irritated Kira, but I guess she thought it was going to be all Sister Act or something.

You can tell Kira isn’t feeling like herself because her short hair is plastered to her forehead, devoid of its usual springy fluffiness, and she’s wearing civillian clothes that are way less awesome than the ones she had in the last episode – namely, a thin dress that just seems like it would get in the way and some sort of prison-Martha-Stewart-style crocheted poncho.

Bareil blandly suggests that she try woodworking, and Kira explains that she has no artistic talent whatsoever, going so far as to say she humiliated her parents as a four-year-old finger painter. In the past, Kira’s always gone on and on about how she never really has a childhood during the occupation, and that she was raised in some sort of labor camp, and I believe both her parents died tragically when she was pretty young, so I don’t know where something as normal as finger painting comes into it. Maybe the Cardassians had cruel competitions in which they would give extra rations to the Bajoran family whose child did the best finger painting, and Kira’s failure was a constant source of tension within the family? I think I’m just going to assume that’s true.

Kira gently breaks it to Bareil that she’s completely useless at the monastery, and she needs to feel useful. Bareil seems sure she could get used to it, and when she says, “oh, you don’t know me,” he responds with “I think I’m beginning to.”

I would like to emphasize that the actor who plays Bareil has decided to include no inflection or facial changes at all in the delivery of these lines. The only way I can deduce what the hell he meant by that is by looking at Kira’s face, and Kira’s face tells me that Bareil meant that as an extremely flirtatious and seductive come-on.

I guess?

Then Bareil mysteriously tells Kira that “it’s time,” and bids her follow him inside. Oh, god, are they going to have sex? If you listen to the next minute or so as though it were some sort of erotic radio drama, it certainly seems like it:

Kira: I’ve never been to this part of the monastary before.

Bareil: May it be the first of many visits.

Kira: Bareil, maybe we should talk about…oh, Bareil, all my life, I’ve dreamed of this.

But no. They are actually talking about a Magic Orb of Magic (remember those?) and apparently this one is related specifically to “prophesy and change.” Bareil opens the magic orb doors and advises her to allow the prophets to guide her.

If you recall, the opening of a Magic Orb of Magic generally signals the beginning of a vision quest, and in this case Kira finds herself standing in the Bajoran Hall of Ministers, where everyone is shouting and Jadzia mysteriously appears in Vedek Winn’s outfit to give her a hug and tell her to listen to the yelling of the crowd (of ministers, I guess). Then Jadzia turns into Vedek Winn, and Minister Nixon appears to tell Kira that the crowd is yelling for him. But then Bareil appears out of the crowd to tell Kira to listen to the crowd herself, because the crowd was inside her all along, I guess. Bareil says the crowd is calling to her, and Vedek Winn says that’s blasphemy, and Kira suddenly realizes she’s naked. No, I did not make that up, this is some Twin Peaks shit. Kira says she doesn’t know how to hear them, and then a suddenly-naked Bareil sneaks up behind her and says she does, and right as they’re about to kiss Kira comes out of her orb hallucination. Ewwwwww.

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Back on the station where, thank god, no one is naked, Odo is on skype with a Bajoran officer on the surface, who explains that Circle meetings are ubiquitous until they try to find them and break them up, which suggests that the Circle people have powerful friends. Apparently the provisional government is at the point of declaring marshal law, because they heard about George Wallace somehow and thought that sounded like a great strategy.

Odo seems dubious as well, and logs off as Quark comes in to speak with him. He tells Quark that he hasn’t made any progress in finding his assailants, but Quark has far more serious things on his mind. He tells Odo that the jig is up, that the Bajoran government is falling and the Federation will be clearing out of dodge soon and he, Quark, has to get out of there. Odo, whose opinions on the Occupy Wall Street movement I would absolutely love to hear, scoffs and says that the Circle are just a bunch of hooligans looking for attention.

Quark, though, thinks there’s cause for concern because of how well-armed they are – a statement which immediately draws Odo’s attention. Quark says he’s become informed about their weapons cache via people who won’t answer questions from people like Odo, and the Circle have been getting weapons from a species called the Kressari, who used to transport other things but have found a true niche in gunrunning. The next Kressari ship will be at the station in thirty-six hours, and Odo demands that Quark find out where on Bajor the guns are going to be delivered. Quark wants Bajor in his rearview, but Odo regretfully deputizes him, and reiterates that it’s Quark’s job to find out where the weapons are going.

Quark laughs uproariously at the idea of him and Odo being a team, but Odo says he can be a deputy or be a prisoner, which doesn’t leave Quark a lot of options.

In Ops, Sisko announces that he’s heading to Bajor based on Odo’s tip that there might  be an impending coup. Li Nalas is all, “how can I help, boss??” and Sisko is all, “oh, right, you’re still here,” and half-heartedly tells Li to check his military contacts to see how much support the provisional government actually has. You just know he’s thinking about how hard Kira would be kicking ass and taking names if she were here.

As Sisko leaves on the turbolift, Li suggests they establish a curfew, because another cargo bay was vandalized last night. Sisko agrees and lets Li know that he’s spoken to Odo about getting Li a bodyguard, whether Li thinks it necessary or not (he thinks not).

Back on Bajor, Bareil is standing out in the wild ferns convincingly pretending to be a tree stump when Kira comes up and nervously said that the Prophets definitely pointed her in the direction of woodworking. Bareil deduces that she doesn’t want to discuss it, and asks if he can tell her something personal. It turns out that he saw her in a vision a while back, and was wondering if he featured in her vision as well. Kira is all, “nope, you wern’t in my vision at all, and you definitely wern’t naked while you wern’t there,” and then they’re interrupted by the sound of far-off gunfire.

As they pass under a bridge, they are unpleasantly surprised by the voice on top of it – it’s Vedek Winn, who apparently didn’t get the memo that trolls hang out under bridges. The sight of her is so upsetting that it actually causes Bareil to exercise his facial muscles.

Look! He's almost making a face!

Vedek Winn pretends not to remember Kira’s name, all like “have we met before? You’re a major, aren’t you? Major McMurphy, maybe? Tee-hee, you all run together after awhile.”

She makes it sound like they’re doing something unsavory (beyond hallucinating each other naked), saying Bareil deserves some “recreation.” Bareil says Kira is there to explore her pagh, and Vedek Winn backhands that exploring one’s pagh is a worthy endeavor for someone like Kira who has known only violence. I always like how the writers have her behave this way in the first few minutes of her entrance in any given episode, just in case you’ve forgotten that she’s a psycho bitch.

Of course, Vedek Winn is not there just for a friendly hello. Apparently there is an archaic rule (Bareil counters that no one ever follows it) that the Vedek Assembly has to be consulted before someone has an “encounter with an Orb.” (coincidentally, does “Orb Encounters” sound like the best or the worst Disney ride ever?)

Vedek Winn “agrees” that maybe the whole thing is overly formal, but says she always asks anyway, because she is a thoughtful and considerate person who in no way bites the heads off live chickens when she goes home at night. As she goes to find where she parked her broomstick, she tells to Kira to stay as long as she likes, for up to a week. How generous!

Let's face it, giant maps are just cool

Meanwhile, in what I guess is the capital of Bajor (let’s call it BajorTown!) an important military guy is giving important-sounding orders to an enlisted man, whose job is orders-deliverer, I guess. As he turns back around to consult a really bitchin’ wall-sized map, Sisko appears. He reminds the General of when they last met (apparently he gave a talk with which the General disagreed), and accuses the General of being afraid to engage the people from the Circle. The General tells Sisko that the sad truth is that this is Bajoran against Bajoran, and Sisko says that the government will stand only with military support.

Sisko lets the General know that the Kressari are running guns to the Circle, and that they’re trying to track the movement of the shipments. The General wants to know anything they find out, and Sisko promises to share information – and then carefully notes that Kira hasn’t been reassigned yet, and it would sure be doing him a huge favor if he could have her back.

The General says that’s outside his job description, and then thoughtfully wonders why Sisko didn’t try to trade his Kressari intel for the favor. “I wouldn’t do that,” Sisko says all innocent puppy-dog-eyes, and the General says he’ll remember that detail about Sisko, which is of course exactly why Sisko structured his request that way. Some days I almost want Sisko to be the president even more than I want Jed Bartlet to be the president, and I want Jed Bartlet to be president to a degree that is probably unhealthy.

On the station, Li Nalas is being terrible at his job. A Kressari guy, presumably smuggling weapons, keeps calling to see why he can’t leave the station. Li actually asks Jadzia what he should do, and she says that the guy is tired of seeing Li smile. Since they have no further intelligence from Odo or Quark, Li has to get on the horn with the guy again. He does a pretty good impression of Bareil impersonating a tree while he apologizes to the guy, who seems upset that Irishy is systematically going through all his cargo.

After the guy hangs up on Li, Irishy and Jadzia have a quick coded comm bade conversation, in which they decide aloud that they can “correct any additional problems” with the ship the next time it swings through three days from now. Irishy and the Kressari guy leave the cargo area of the ship as Irishy bids him a fair voyage, and then we see that Odo is stowing away as a packing label. Well done.

On Bajor, Sisko sneaks up on Kira at the monastery so they can gaze longingly at each other. After discussing the relative merits of daydreaming, Sisko asks Kira if she’s interested in returning to the station. Kira tells him that she had an orb experience that gave her a lot to think about, and then he warns her about the Circle and the potential coup, and Kira didn’t realize shit had gotten that bad. Sisko is all, “oh well, them’s the breaks,” and starts to walk brusquely away, just begging Kira to call after him, which she does, saying she wants to go back. Sisko gives her a big smile, and apparently takes very large steps, because he is too far away to notice the creepy robed members of the Circle who slide in and drug Kira unconscious and drag her away about ten seconds later.

Let this be a lesson to you, Sisko: walk slower

On the Kressari ship, Odo, who is now a mouse, sees the Kressari Captain transport a young Cardassian onto the ship with a crate full of weapons. After signing for the delivery (an amusingly mundane touch) he beams out again, and Odo makes excited mouse squeaky noises. Damn your meddling, Cardassians!

Kira, meanwhile, is in the Circle’s underground hangout, and so is  – say it isn’t so! – Minister Richard Nixon. He explains that he is the Circle, and he didn’t want Li Nalas on the planet uniting and empowering the people and generally drawing focus while he instigated a civil war. He says that the provisional government sucks, and that he knows Kira agrees with him. He says that the Bajorans aren’t going to be doormats anymore, and Kira reveals herself to be heartwarmingly pro-democracy (“if you want to change the government you vote to change it, you don’t sneak up behind it with a dagger”).

Richard Nixon asks for her best guess about how the Federation will respond to this bullshit, and even says he’ll give her the station to run all by herself after the Federation leaves. Kira says he should worry about the Bajoran military first, but Minister Nixon seems to have a one-track mind, asking her to reveal secrets like what the Federation’s plans are and exactly how cagey Sisko is when push comes to shove and where Sisko finds his divine cologne.

When Kira refuses, he says he’s going to torture her Cardassian-style, after qualifying that he hates the Cardassians as much as anyone. Fhew, for a minute there I was worried he was a hypocrite!

Back on the station, Sisko and his team try to figure out what happened to Kira literally less than a minute after he last saw her. Li Nalas volunteers to throw his weight around to get some questions answered, and Sisko wonders when Odo will be back. As if on cue, Quark breezes in saying that everything’s fine because they have “Odo’s favorite deputy” to turn to in their time of crisis. He says he knows where the Circle’s headquarters are (from the looks of it, deep below Wayne Manor), and Sisko sets up a team to launch a rescue mission. Sisko takes all the remaining main characters with him (except Jadzia and Quark, who he leaves behind to run the station and whine, respectively), including Li Nalas, who says he owes Kira one rescue. He also owes her one prostitute impersonation, but no one mentions that.

In the CircleCave, the dissidents are taking their leisurely time getting their guns ready and stuff when Sisko and co. beam directly into the cave, miraculously going unseen. Sisko notes that they have a shitload of firepower, and then they hear Kira yelping somewhere in the distance. Sisko says anyone who finds her should immediately slap a comm badge on her and call for transport. The whole team rushes into an ambush and hides behind some conveniently placed chest-high crates, and a flustered Bashir sees Kira hidden up above and runs to her. Good for him, I guess, but if I were in charge he would be waiting in the car for sure, it’s not like he has any actual combat experience.

Bashir starts untying the bloodied Kira, and almost gets shot trying to examine her. SEE?Thankfully, this causes him to remember his instructions, and he calls for an immediate beam-out.

Back on the station, Kira warns Sisko that minister Nixon knows that the Federation are the only people who could actually put an end to his shenanigans, and Kira wants to lure him to the Chamber of Ministers for some reason I don’t entirely grasp. Sisko thinks this is too dangerous, and suddenly Odo reappears to share that it was the Cardassians indirectly supplying the Circle all along. He reveals that the Circle doesn’t even know that their weapons are coming from Cardassia, which explains why they haven’t ritually burned them.

Sisko explains to the somehow still confused Li Nalas that the Cardassians are using Minister Nixon and the Circle to kick the Federation out of Bajor’s orbit, and then they’ll slide in and resume their oppressive occupation like nothing ever happened. Sisko asks Jadzia to open a line to Bajor so that Li Nalas can talk to the Chamber of Ministers, but all lines of communication are down. Sisko has to stoop to the last resort of the desperate: he calls a Starfleet Admiral.

On Bajor, Minister Nixon stands in the monastery admiring the same Magic Orb of Magic that gave Kira sexy dreams earlier. Vedek Winn comes into the room, and you just know before she even says anything that she likes him, because she is a terrible person. Sure enough, she says that the Prophets must be super impressed by his forceful pagh, and turns out to be on a first-name basis with him.

Apparently he wants her public support, and she’s all like, “who, little ol’ me?” and he says that they both represent a return to “orthodox” values. So, I guess she’s like the Billy Graham to his Reagan? Except he’s already Richard Nixon, gah. Does that make her Bebe Rebozo? Never mind, you don’t care, I don’t know why we work so hard to appeal to the Star Trek Fan/American Historical Trivia Nerd demographic.

Ewwwwwwwwwww

Vedek Winn sneakily asks for some quid pro quo, in exchange for an endorsement from her order, she wants to be made Kai when he becomes leader of Bajor. I would call it a deal with the devil, except I am extremely uncertain who exactly is more evil in this little scenario.

In Ops, Sisko is going in to talk to the admiral when Irishy informs him that two assault vessels heading this way have just given all non-Bajorans seven hours to evacuate. Clearly, the situation is becoming dire. Sisko summarizes it to the Admiral, and advises that they not withdraw, considering the nefarious Cardassian scheme. Showing the sort of strategic mind and sparkling wit that gets you a Starfleet Admiralty, the Admiral goes, “damn!” and shakes his head in exactly the sort of way that lets you know that he just snapped his fingers in frustration.

The Admiral doesn’t understand why the Bajoran dissidents would be in bed with Cardassians, and when Sisko explains that they aren’t aware, the Admiral decides that this is an internal Bajoran problem, financed by Cardassians or not, and says that the Prime Directive prohibits their involvement in other people’s civil wars, so Sisko has to evacuate his people and worry about Bajor later. He assure Sisko that that was an order.

Sisko asks Irishy how long it would take to evacuate the station. Irishy figures on three hours. Sisko presses, asking how long it would take to do a complete evacuation, taking all Federation technology and property, ripping the copper wiring out of the wall, etc. Irishy says it could take days or even a week, and certainly longer than seven hours.

“Then I guess some of us,” Sisko intones as he stares into space, “won’t be done by the time they get here.”

BOOM! To be continued further! The thrilling conclusion, and analysis of the multi-parter, coming at you next week.

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5 thoughts on “DS9 Season 2, Ep2: “The Circle”

  1. Pingback: DS9 Season 2, Ep. 3: “The Siege” | Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek

  2. Pingback: DS9 Season 2, Ep. 3: “The Siege” | Meredith and Tim Watch Star Trek

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

  4. Haha!!! I heartily agree with calling him Minister Nixon! Frank Langella may have even been cast in Frost/Nixon due to this performance.

    If Jaro is Nixon, then Winn is definitely Vedek Ratchet. Vedek and later Kai Winn channels nurse ratchet to the end of the series until she is evaporated into molecule chunks by Gul Dukat. But she redeemed herself for 7 years of Ratchet-ness by telling The Sisko about The Book of the Kosst Amogen.

  5. I thought Jaro was Nixon as well even before he was in a frost Nixon! Haha!

    vedek/Kai ratchet was ratchet all the way to the end of the series, too bad she only redeemed herself right before Dukat evaporated her into molecule chunks.

    DS9- I hated it at first, tolerated it, now I love it. I kept watching it as it was broadcast even with my original dislike of the moving away from roddenberry’s future vision.

    These are great analyses of the show, season by season and episode by episode. Many thanks for taking the time to do this.

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