Analysis of “The Homecoming,” “The Circle,” and “The Siege”

Meredith’s Analysis: This is DS9’s three-parter, and it’s a great out-of-the gate opening for the second season. We get the most important development on Bajor yet – it really is like the wild west, full of competing factions and corruption, everyone scrambling for power in the vacuum left by Kai Opaka last season. These are the first episodes that raise, for me, a question that is ongoing throughout the series: maybe Bajor is in such disarray because everyone there spends so much time scheming and having intrigue rather than actually, you know, running Bajor? Like, when was the last time anyone on that planet filed any paperwork?

They are also the first episodes that actually show us the chaos on Bajor and make it feel real. In the first season, all of the Bajoran “unrest” consisted of groups of Bajorans on the station shuffling around and yelling, and it was kind of hard to imagine that there was a whole planet of people with an actual society experiencing actual unrest. In these episodes, the danger seems very real, and we spend the most time we’ve ever spent on Bajor. We also get some good development on the Bajoran ministers, who play an important role in the political intrigue of Bajor.

These episodes also do a great job of further developing characters (Jadzia’s weird girliness aside). Sisko is way more badass than he ever was in season 1, and you can tell Avery Brooks has found and committed to the character. Kira is much more nuanced than she’s ever been (“Duet” excepted), and the hilarious little character flourish of Irishy loving army rations is great.

I think the only real weakness here is Li Nalas, who ultimately serves his function (dying nobly and being a martyr), but who never really lives up to the hype that the rest of the characters build around him. I guess that’s sort of a point in and of itself, since he was always supposed to be a man who stumbled into legend status by accident.

Tim’s Analysis: Kai Opaka’s departure may have left a power vacuum on Bajor, but it’s not as though she was filling the space very well herself. In these episodes we learn that the power structures of Bajor are anything but settled following the departure of the Cardassians. Some hints were previously dropped along these lines and let’s face it, it’s no surprise. Bajor was under Cardassian occupation for 50 years. Functional government is not exactly something that crops up overnight. Characters talk about “unrest”, but this episode shows us that Bajor is a beehive full of civil war. Remember that Bajor has to be peaceful for a while before they can join the Federation. They’re not exactly working on that very diligently.

These episodes have some really fun parts, but my favorite is absolutely the scene in Kira’s quarters where everyone shows up at once. Intended as an homage to A Night at the Opera, it was actually filmed as one uninterrupted take, but was later broken up in editing. The timing is flawless and it’s a very light moment in an otherwise very serious story arc.

The arc itself really shows off what DS9 can do. TOS and TNG both never show us any follow up. The Enterprises get into some shenanigans, win the day and zip off on another adventure while some admiral assures the captain that it’ll be sorted out thanks to him. In this case, Sisko is told that it’ll be sorted out and that he should leave and he chooses not to.

I disagree with Meredith that Li Nalas is weak. I think he’s actually great. He represents the regular Joes on Bajor that are being jerked around by the political machinery. His legend is used to further a political agenda and in the end, he sticks around to help take it back, even without a real obligation to do so, and ends up dying bravely, only cementing the legend or confirming that he was that hero all along, maybe just not quite in the same way.

Overall, this arc is good, but it starts to drag in the middle. It probably could have been squeezed into 2 episodes if they had tried.

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."

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DS9 Season 1 Ep14: “The Storyteller”

Synopsis: We open with a Sisko voice-over explaining that he’s handling a mediation for the Bajoran government between two rival factions, the “Paqu” (pah-COO) and the “Navot” (Naah-VAHT), who are having a land dispute that could, because it’s Bajor, easily spark a civil war. Bajor would have a civil war about what time they should all have breakfast if so many of their people weren’t starving, at least they’re asking Sisko for input this time, I guess.

In Ops, Sisko multi-tasks: preparing to welcome the Paqu, asking when the Navot are due to arrive, pacing purposefully about, etc. When Irishy slides into his orbit to ask him about something, he brusquely demands to know why Irishy isn’t on Bajor yet. Um, because you just said all the Bajorans were coming here? Maybe this is all a clever diplomatic ruse: after the disputants are on the station, it’s Irishy’s job to run down to the planet and move the property lines around, and Sisko can just be all, “Hmm, you must have misread this. Oh, well, no civil war today!”

Actually, it seems like the mission in question just “chauffeur duty”, and Irishy asks if some Ensign could take his place, since it’s such mind-numbing work. Sisko is all, “I’m sorry, is there some reason you can’t do this thing I have asked you to do?” and Irishy carefully says no, but that something could come up any minute, you never know.

Just then, Bashir comes into Ops with a ridiculous little backpack that I think is supposed to hold his medical tricorder, but which I’m going to assume actually contains trailmix and a stuffed bunny – because he, of course, is what Irishy is supposed to be chauffeuring.

He’s super excited, as always, and is all, “ARE YOU READY TO GO, CHIEF? ARE YOU READY TO GO? MEDICAL EMERGENCY ADVENTURE FUNTIMES!” Irishy seems considerably less excited. Bashir puts the final nail in his coffin by saying that he sees this little roadtrip as a “wonderful opportunity to get to know each other,” which in Bashir language means “become best buddies and eat lunch together and have a secret handshake and pass notes in class and pretend to be superheros at my house after school lets out.” Irishy looks around for someone to whom he can say, “goddammit, I am a grown man,” and, seeing no one, follows Bashir to the runabout.

In the turbolift, Sisko and Kira are discussing important diplomatic issues. Sisko just wants to get the two sides talking informally, and Kira says it’ll be impressive to just get them sitting at the same table. Kira tells Sisko that there’s an old saying on Bajor: “Shoot Cardassians on sight.” Oh, no wait, sorry, wrong old saying. She says that “the land and the people are one,” and that these particular people live on Bajor’s harshest land (the other Bajorans all said they were daft to build castles in the swamp). She says that the Paku avoid contact with outsiders, so she won’t be much help.

As she and Sisko step into the airlock to meet the Paqu representative, it’s hard for them to hide their surprise: the representative is a fifteen-year-old girl. You know, they’re acting like it’s a problem, but I know a certain young man on this station who has a thing for the Bajoran laydees, and probably would not say no to some questionably ethical romancin’ as a negotiation technique. Wasn’t it just an episode ago that Sisko said a real leader would do anything for peace? Doesn’t that include whoring out one’s son? Continue reading

DS9 Season 1 Ep1: “Emissary”

Meredith’s Synopsis:

We open with some NexGen backstory, giving us a brief rundown on the Battle of Wolf 359 (the Pearl Harbor of the Star Trek universe) from the Best of Both Worlds two-parter. In case you didn’t know, this was an unprovoked attack by evil bio/robot hybrids the Borg, in a star system that was basically on Earth’s doorstep (Wolf 359 is a real-life star you can actually see, FYI, it’s about 7.8 lightyears away from us). Dapper Captain Jean-Luc Picard was assimilated by the Borg and mind controlled to lead the attack, and the Federation lost the shit out of the battle – the Borg eventually made it into Earth’s orbit, only one ship survived. Ultimately, even though it was forty Federation ships versus one Borg Cube, eleven thousand people were killed or assimilated by the Borg. Seriously, it was effing heavy shit.

This feels like a lot of background, I know, but you have to understand that the target audience had a PTSD seizure when they heard the name “Wolf 359.”

Now that we’ve established our setting, we find ourselves on board a ship where the orders are being given by an African-American First Officer so poised and well-spoken that he makes Morgan Freeman look like Marlon Wayans. The Commander does his best, but the whole audience knows he’s screwed, and as his ship starts to blow up, he makes sure his crew is getting to the escape pods, and then runs through the wreckage in search of his wife. He finds his motionless wife and son pinned under some beams, and while the boy is OK, his wife is dead. A crewman gets the Commander’s son, Jake, to safety, and then literally has to drag the Commander away from his wife’s body as he screams, “we can’t just leave her here!”

But they do, and, on the escape pod, the Commander holds his son’s hand and looks out the window at the exploding ship with the look of a man who is about to become a Batman.

You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become an Admiral

We are going to have some allegiance to justice and righting of wrongs up in this bitch for sure.

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