DS9: S1E02: “Past Prologue”

In which rumors circulate, Kira has a quandary, and Julian Bashir will return in Double-0 Zero: The Spy who Sucked at Everything. 

Netflix has these episodes out of order at the time of this post, according to no less than three different sources. I shall therefore compromise – I’m doing them in canon order, but I draw the line at bumping up the numbering to account for the Emissary two-parter.

"He followed me home, Commander Sisko. Can I keep him?"

“He followed me home, Commander Sisko. Can I keep him?”

Bashir sits by himself sipping tea when he is approached by a Cardassian who seems very pleased to speak with him. This is Garak, and he is the last Cardassian aboard the station and very eager to make friends and influence people. Of course, Bashir has heard rumors that Garak is still here as a spy for the Cardassian Union. This is of course nonsense, but note that Garak doesn’t specifically deny it. Not that, if he were a spy, he wouldn’t be fully comfortable with lying. It’s just that having marathonned The Dresden Files for the fifth time, I’m very alert for that type of thing.

Bashir is so earnest it’s painful. His eagerness to be the center of a spy novel is interrupted by a Cardassian ship firing at (and consistently missing) a small Bajoran ship. The fact that Kira recognizes it as Bajoran by sight despite the model having been used at least five different times in TNG suggests some interesting things about Bajorin shipwrighting prior to the Cardassian occupation. Apart from a few of the accessory bits, it’s identical to the Pakled ship, for instance. Now, we know from “Emissary” that Bajoran spacefaring history goes back somewhere on the order of ten thousand years – one has to wonder if the Bajorans built, or at least influenced, ship design through the area.

The pilot, Tana Los, is a veteran of the Bajoran resistance and former comerade-in-arms of Major Kira Nerys. He has also requested political asylum. The Cardassians want him for heinous crimes against the Cardassian people. Sisko gives this all the respect and concern due a German in 1947 who complains that any minority you’d care to name committed heinous crimes against their people. Whatever the opposite of ‘trust but verify’ is.

The rebel group Los belonged to is, to be fair, known for not being particular fans of the current Bajoran provisional government. Like, assassination level not-fans. Completely understandable feelings aside, once the war is over you stop being freedom fighters, according to Sisko. According to Kira, ‘bite me Federation-boy, this is about restoring Bajoran civic unity.’

Los shows evidence of recent torture at the hands of the Cardassians, and is totally up-front about his continued acts of violence against the Cardassians following their withdrawal. Kira goes over Sisko’s head to speak with an admiral, and O’Brien gives Sisko some advice about turning anyone over to the Cardassians and why not to do it. Sisko grans asylum and reminds Gul Danar that he’s perfectly within his rights to pursue the matter with the Bajoran provisional government once Tana is off the station.

"Because, dummy, without a Federation presence the Cardassians will just come back and do the same things all over again."

“Because, dummy, without a Federation presence the Cardassians will just come back and do the same things all over again.”

Kira and Los get to have a fight about whether the Federation presence is more of the same. Los is worried about the Federation just being the new Cardassians, Kira is pointing out some issues of reality – the Federation keeps the Cardassians from just waltzing back to claim the wormhole. Los just wants Bajoran isolationism. ‘Bajor for Bajorans’ is the phrase he uses. That’s not worrying at all.

Oh look, Lursa and B’Etor of the House of Duras have shown up! They’re just as charming and sunny as ever. They’ve been out of sight since the failed coup, and the Klingon Empire has them listed as renegates and outlaws. Since the station is technically Bajoran territory, Sisko forbids Odo from just locking them up on suspicion and calling the Klingons. Say what you want about Cardassians, they never let a little thing like ‘due process’ get in the way of a good crackdown on undesirables.

Bashir goes to meet up with Garak in Quark’s, and Garak draws Bashir’s attention to the Duras sisters, who at this point appear to be working with Los to have retrived something from the Cardassians. ‘With’ may be an incorrect term. Odo catches them threatening him for not having the merchandise, and goes to Sisko about it.

Beware his deadly lizard-claw style.

Beware his deadly lizard-claw style.

In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, the Duras sisters, while browsing Garak’s tailor shop, threaten him suddenly and he responds with a motion that looks a whole lot like a martial arts mudra. He drops it quickly when they offer to sell Tana Los to the Cardassian Union – it certainly seems like he still has strong ties to the Cardassian government.

Nerys has gone out of her way to pull strings and get amnestry for Tana Los, and just when she gets it he reveals himself to still be a separatist terrorist, unwilling to leave the past behind or accept Federation help or not commit further ‘terrorist’ acts. He wants to do something nonviolently and it looks like he’s going to convince Kira to hear him out.

Garak tries to convince Bashir to join in some spy games. It’s an uphill battle – Bashir has exactly the amount of guile you’d expect from a freshly-graduated poster-boy of Starfleet Medical, given that even their Intelligence operatives are terrible at their jobs.

Kira struggles with the decision, and goes to Odo about it. Odo doesn’t believe in massaging the truth to make people feel better, or perhaps hasn’t mastered the art, but it does make him the right person to talk to in this situation.

"I feel pretty / oh so pretty..."

“I feel pretty / oh so pretty…”

Bashir is the worst at spycraft. He shows up late, and thinks that Garak actually wants him to try on a suit. Fortunately, he hasn’t actually stripped out of his jumpsuit by the time Lursa and B’Etor arrive to be terse and angry at Garak and discuss plans.

Los is delivering a power source that, combined with the antimatter converter he stole from the Cardassians, would allow him to make a significantly powerful bomb. Kira’s decision is made – she’s going with Los in order to make sure he doesn’t suspect any problems and scrap the mission they know about in favor of one they don’t. They make the trade with the Klingons, and Sisko and O’Brien move in for the arrest, at which point everything goes to hell.

Los aboard the Yangtzee Kian runabout (the beefier shuttles) detects the Ganges and runs, threatening first Kira, then thousands of colonists, then the entire Bajor system with radiation poisoning from the bomb. We can now no longer feel bad for him. His real plan is to collapse the Wormhole in order to make Bajor no longer a strategic interest to anyone, but Kira foils him sufficiently to waste she shot. A massive explosion, basically a space-nuke, detonates on the far side of the wormhole, damaging nobody. And surely nobody will come to investigate that when it shows up on all the FTL sensors of the locals.

Did we miss something awesome?