(Star Trek - Deep Space Nine episode production code 508)
story by L.J. Strom
teleplay by Hans Beimler
Here we come to the best regular episode from season 5's first half
that takes place in DS9's regular time/space arena. And apart from
being a good story that involves our regulars and their extended
family quite well, it is also an important milestone for many
long term arcs on the show.
The most obvious milestone is that Bajor is deemed to be ready
for official acceptance into the Federation.... and this seems to
mark a first for any filmed Star Trek story, as we've never actually
seen this happen before. Hopefully, this should put the last
remaining vestiges of Prime Directive "hands off" non-interference
issues to rest, and allow any Starfleet member to get as involved
in Bajoran affairs as good sense dictates from now on.... if only
Bajor had gone through with the ceremony.
As future stories play out, it turns out that there is good
reason for Bajor to delay its acceptance. Basically, Bajor
maintains a fašade of having a separate agenda from the rest
of the Federation in front of certain third parties. This will
be maintained right through the end of Deep Space Nine's run on
television, and this episode is as close as we ever come to
seeing Bajor actually join the Federation, save perhaps from
the Starfleet uniform that Major Kira adopts late in season seven.
And so there remains the shadow of Prime Directive concern over
a planet left in limbo for the time being, and the situation
One has to wonder though, how much sovereignty each planet in the
Federation has. One would think that they could and should
maintain their own militia if they choose, and not automatically
have it completely absorbed into Starfleet as the admiral suggests.
Interesting. "Rapture" is setting some precedents for the Trek
universe, it seems.
The episode itself fills its screen time with quality elements,
the first of which being a cool interplanetary archaeological
exercise with some fascinating puzzles to it. On top of this
we see Sisko embracing a very involved spiritual role, not only
with Bajor but also with himself. Via the character of a visiting
Admiral, we see Starfleet's response in detail - that they are
still somewhat uncomfortable with the situation, but prepared
to go along with it and give Sisko significant rope. It's a very
nice response on their part.
What perhaps is more cliché and deserves a bit of a groan
near the end is the idea that Sisko's spiritual visions are
at odds with his brain health. This element is on tasteful ground
at the opening of the story, when it simply looks like two different
ways of viewing the same phenomenon, but when the final drama
tries to pit one idea against the other and make the characters
sacrifice one to choose the other, it winds up feeling a little
less evolved, although at this stage it doesn't hurt the story
too badly, which remains fascinating.
"I knew who my enemies were.
But now, now nothing is certain."
These are some of the better lines from the story's conclusion,
encapsulating the concept that the best dramas are NOT
enemy-centered. We will come back to this concept often
as Deep Space Nine progresses, and it is nice to see this
episode fall on the better side of that particular issue.
"Makes life interesting doesn't it?"
As such, many of the characters have a chance to shine in this story.
Kai Winn in particular is refreshing in making her desire to better
herself very public and open, and I have to say that this is
definitely one of her best episodes. The entire DS9 Ops crew
also get a nice discussion of faith, highlighting their own
differing views on the subject. Jake is also a bit underused
in DS9 for someone with his name in the opening credits, but he
puts in a good and emotional showing in this story. Kassidy Yates
also makes a return, and boosts this story by providing an important
I was probably a bit disappointed with this one when the ending
came down to choosing fear and protection instead of union
and exploration and other high Roddenberry ideals, although
it is quite respectable in retrospect and definitely one of
season five's highlights.
But I will admit that when the next episode dove straight back
into dark, depressing, completely unevolved subject matter,
with Ron Moore killing off minor characters as though he really
doesn't know what else to do with them, I finally quit watching
DS9 during its first broadcast run, and only caught up with it
again a decade later on DVD.
There are some cool and worthwhile episodes in the early part
of the season, but most paint
a dark, depressing picture that has little to do with
high philosophies and striving to better oneself.
The concept of territorial battles seemed to take over,
with comedy being the chief relief.
Thankfully season five does improve,
and season six gets really good, but the going is still rough
for a while, and the Roddenberry ideals have great trouble
coming into focus for these writers.