Airdate: May 22, 1994
43 of 173 produced
43 of 173 aired
A member of the Bajoran Occupational Government appears on the station seeking to return home. Bajoran law forbids it, but he claims to have something to offer in exchange for the right to return home. He claims that Vedek Bareil is the man responsible for betraying a resistance cell to the Cardassians during the Occupation that killed 43 people, including Kai Opaka's son. With Bareil poised to win the upcoming election for Kai, the personal and political stakes for Bajor and Kira are immeasurable, so Kira reluctantly agrees to try and find out the truth, whatever it is.
I've bowed as far as I can bow, and I cain't bows no more!
Kevin: I enjoyed this episode a lot. I think it builds well off of the previous Bajoran political episodes and expands both the political story and the personal one. I liked the further sketching out of the history of the Occupation. I think it makes it more interesting and far more chilling to imagine a Vichy-style government rubber stamping the Cardassians actions. It even makes Federation inaction far more understandable. The complication of an at least superficially legitimate government allowing the Cardassian actions make the politics even murkier. Like her outrage at the fictive Dar'heel in Duet, Kira's outrage at a collaborator is genuine, and certainly informed by its historical parallels. I also liked that they had Oak try to defend himself as preventing worse harm. The complicated, gray morality pays off in the twist at the end nicely as well.
Matthew: I want to like this episode, I really do. But I'm just bored by it. Here's why - Bajor as a place is only interesting to me insofar as it impacts either the Federation as a whole or as it impacts main characters in particular. It really doesn't achieve either with this story. Bajoral religious/political stuff is interesting when it is in stark contrast with Federation utopian humanism. It's not here. And Kira, though she's banging a potential Kai, doesn't really get changed as a result of what happens here. She hated Winn before, she still hates her here, she loved Bareil before, and things are status quo by the end. So this episode just kind of makes me shrug my shoulders and say "meh, that happened."
Kevin: I enjoyed Winn's machinations this time, actually more than I did in "In the Hands of the Prophets." Here, her goal is more narrowly focused, and her actions more rational. This doesn't need to be wheels within wheels; she's just trying to dig up dirt on a more popular political rival. It led to some great scenes between her and Kira. I especially liked the sparring when Kira tries to prevent Winn from leaving. Getting roped into helping her is fun for the drama and the for the character.
Matthew: I like the idea of a Bajoran leader being at serious odds with Sisko, Kira, and the Federation in general. Some of those scenes were good. But overall I found Winn to be annoying. I don't see how her "playing dumb" act really works on anybody. I'd rather see her giving a great speech with an ulterior motive, or appearing like a hero to her people. Instead, she's just a transparent jerk for us, the audience. There's no ambiguity. So if you're going to focus on non-central characters, you'd better make them interesting. Winn is not, here, in my opinion.
Kevin: I also liked Kira's relationship with Bareil more this time as well. Given more of a center stage, it feels a little more natural. I remember being not shocked, per se, by the depiction of them having a physical relationship, but it was certainly surprising given how little TNG portrayed long term, intimate relationships. I like that the resolution for the episode manages to place her relationship with Bareil at risk, but then manage to avoid that by impacting what may be an even more important one, her memory of Opaka. I have to say that on first watching, I didn't actually see that coming until Kira said it, which made the revelation all the more fun for me.
Matthew: I think the notion of Bareil protecting Opaka's memory was one of the precious few interesting things in the episode. It might have benefited from Bareil being put through the wringer a bit more, from Kira actually losing faith in him, really raising the stakes.
Kevin: Finally, I like that managed to weave Kira's story into the larger political universe by making Winn the new Kai. Winn's casual dismissal of Sisko, now that he is of no use to her, is great, and a great foreshadowing of things to come. Overall, I thought the personal and political plots were well meshed, and kept my interest. My one complaint is some of the specifics about Bajoran politics go unexplained. Jaro seems to indicate he can direct the Vedek Assembly to appoint Winn Kai, but now there is an election. Obviously, there could be some explanation, and really any one would have done.
Matthew: Being so close on the heels of the election of Pope Francis I, it's hard not to feel a bit let down by what we're given here. When you are already behind the 8-ball a bit in telling a story that doesn't focus on main characters, you'd better go the extra mile to make it have as many interesting and informational bits as possible. That doesn't happen here. Again, we don't get to see Bajor or any civilians on the street, and really, the only other Vedek than Bareil that we see is Winn.It's just sort of cheap and unsatisfying, in by book.
Kevin: Nana Visitor is a really good actress, and she's really come into her own by this point. Her confrontation of Bareil at the end of the episode was really good for me, particularly when she explains she has figured out what really happened before Bareil can explain. She was also great sparring with Louise Fletcher and it was really fun to watch.
Matthew: I agree that Visitor is what makes this episode worth watching. She almost gets me to care about the events on display here, but she is hamstrung by a script that doesn't give her enough meat to chew on. I liked Avery Brooks, I thought his diplomatic take on the situation was enjoyable to watch.
Kevin: Louise Fletcher is always a treat. She's so imperious, but not in a way that feels out of place for the setting. She may not get much in the way of technobabble, but she definitely inhabits the political realm with ease. I liked Anglim more as Bareil this time around. His natural low-key attitude had an undercurrent of tension about Kira discovering the truth.
Matthew: I liked her much more in "In the Hands of the Prophets," and in the season two opening arc. Here, she was very one note for me. It is of course what's on the page, but for me, Fletcher didn't save the scheming with any complexity. I did enjoy her verbal smackdowns of Kira and Sisko, though. Anglim is a mannequin, pure and simple. He takes his shirt off here, which I'm sure pleased a few fans who are into that sort of thing. But I never read any real or compelling emotions from him.
Kevin: I just don't like the Orb sequences. They read too consciously as attempts at dream sequences. The thing about dreams is that they don't feel strange in the moment, only after, and obviously, that's not quite what an Orb experience is supposed to be exactly, but the soft focus and white haze just scream THIS IS A VISION YOU ARE HAVING A VISION that it pulls me out of the moment. Playing the scene with the bizarre imagery more matter of factly would give it more punch for me, or at least make them go more quickly.
Matthew: I agree, and my main problem is the sloooooowness of it all. I certainly understand that a character might experience some sort of or vision, sent from atemporal beings, as proceeding in a time scale different from ours. But does it have to be so boring and slow? Bareil already talks as though he's got nowhere to be right now. Do they have to slow it down even further? I completely endorse your idea of playing them straight and putting the audience a little more off balance as to what is a vision or not.
Kevin: Beyond that, the Okudagrams were all their usual excellent quality, and I liked the monastery. They really found a solid, well defined aesthetic for Bajoran temples and it looks both interesting and old on screen. I like the Kai robes for Winn, but it's kind of clear they designed them for her and just put Bareil in them for his Orb sequence. I would have also liked an explanation for the different robes. Again, any explicit explanation would have worked.
Matthew: I think overall this was a low key but mostly effective episode as far as visuals go. The robes were fine, the monastery seems to be a welcome re-use from early in the season. Nothing dazzles here, it's just fundamentally solid.
Kevin: I am going with a 3. I don't think this one necessarily sets the world on fire, but it is a good episode all the way through, and the personal and political stakes are well used and interconnected and the result is an episode that aside from the Orb sequences, I always thoroughly enjoy rewatching. Cap it off with a twist that I found genuinely surprising the first time around, and you have a solid episode.
Matthew: The boredom factor relegates this to 2 territory for me. When this episode is on the screen, I break out my laptop to surf the web or my PS Vita to play some pinball. It's flawed in its focus, and doesn't bring enough interest or conflict to the table to make up for it. That makes our combined rating a 5.