In which Kira has a bad reputation, zombies are surprisingly erudite, and I taunt you mercilessly.
O’Brien seems to have found some old files on Kira’s terrorist days. Well, ‘freedom fighter’ days if you ask the Bajorans. Not that Sisko particularly cares what’s on it, but it has to be at least a little bit awkward to view your second-in-commands police records, even if they are from a society that thinks joy is immoral. Bashir is unloading medical samples and has found the Kai, back for her tour of the station, and Kira is really upset that her police file doesn’t list her as more of a threat, but is quickly disarmed by the VIP.
The Bajoran Pope is really enthused about seeing the wormhole, and Sisko offers to take her on a runabout. Bashir tags along because he is a tiny puppy-man. On the way out, Kai Opaka gives O’Brien a necklace to give to his daughter, because what good is being a space-pope if you can’t be mysterious whenever you feel like it.
Already it’s easy to forget how cool a stable wormhole is until you see it through the eyes of someone seeing it for the first time. She also makes some noise about a prophecy. It should therefore be a fact of some significance that moments later they get a message and go to investigate it. I want to be very clear that this is not a failing of Starfleet- Sisko wanted to turn back to protect the civilian VIP pope of a civilization that doesn’t yet have solid formal ties with the Federation, but she insists. They track the signal to its source and find a damaged satellite above a planet with life on it. The shuttle is disabled by one of the satellites and the crash, and although she’s out of focus for most of the shots you can see Opaka is more excited about this whole thing than worried.
The crash procedures for a Federation runabout-class transport vessel are fairly interesting from an academic point of view, but not surprising. Really the most surprising thing is that there are no seatbelts. Presumably the inertial dampeners are meant to fulfil that duty, but the crash is too much for the space-pope and she dies. Kira doesn’t even get to finish her prayer for the dead before the survivors get taken captive.
Dax and O’Brien don’t let any grass grow under their feet before picking up the search. One interesting thing of note – it appears the open-air lifts on Ops can get to the runabout pads, which is odd because most of the turbolifts on the station don’t have that squished shape.
Anyway, back to the A plot. The inhabitants of the mad-Max-apocalypse-planet find something amusing about Bashir being a doctor, and is a bit surprised that Sisko and friends don’t know about this planet and ‘the punishment.’ They are at war with an enemy, and they don’t use energy weapons anymore because they’re ‘not damaging enough.’ Someone in a prior shot was polishing an axe. Call it another tally-mark in the theme of high-civilization in low-civ environments.
A few minutes later, the enemy, the Nol-Ennis, burst into the Ennis camp and start discharging energy weapons with massive casualties on both sides. After the battle, Zombie-Kie-Opaka walks in. Scratch that. Perfectly-yet-inexplicably-alive-Opaka. In fact, afterwards all the dead soldiers start getting back up. Seems like death is impossible on this planet, which explains why energy weapons fell out of favor. Whatever mechanism repairs and restarts organs must have an upper limit to its effectiveness – the Ennis leader’s scarred head is a testament to that. presumably it would also have difficulties regrowing severed limbs. Therefore, presumably, the Ennis dragged the enemy dead out back to dismember them and incinerate the bits in a bonfire.
Then again, what would be the point. If the moon is a penal colony then there’s likely no strategic ground to hold, and if you incinerate the enemy dead your dead will also likely be incinerated, and then nobody will have any fun.
Bashir is able to explain the resuscitation effect as the work of repair nanites, but nobody on the planet seems to find it particularly miraculous. They were exiled to the moon for an eternal punishment and an example to the rest of civilization. They used to follow good wartime doctrine, too, but stopped bothering. That includes keeping enemy soldiers in a cage rather than, again, burning the bodies into ash.
While O’Brien and Dax search for the missing runabout, Sisko has successfully brokered the first peace talk in several lifetimes and Opaka is trying to get Kira to let go of the past, and her history as a freedom fighter. Kira does not like the idea of the pope thinking of her as a naturally violent person.
Incidentally, Sisko gives far less of a damn about the Prime Directive than Picard would. Sisko has offered to get the two factions off the planet and settle them on different planets, if the peace talks go well. Spoiler alert – the peace talks are not going to go well. What’s nifty is that they break down in almost exactly the same way that the three damned in “No Exit” each refuse to leave the room, when egress is offered. Only with less snarky quips and more swords.
Bashir also discoveres that the main cast can’t afford to die. Sucks for Opaka, but presumably the satellites provide energy, instructions, or some other basic requirement for the functioning of the nanites, and it would be impractical to install such a generator on Federation ships to make all Starfleet crews functionally immortal? Not like they’d want to encourage their crews to take chances, but this is the kind of thing that ought to be studied and reproduced with fewer limitations. I mean, the way it goes wrong is a whole different episode, but you could at least make the attempt.
Also, in the background while all this is being ignored, the two sides get up and seriously nobody even tries to win. No decapitations, no immolations. Come on, bros.
Opaka is more enthused than one might expect about being given the chance to immortally minister to immortal combattants, and takes the beamout to make one more cryptic statement about her path and Sisko’s crossing again.
All in all, a nice little allegory on generational war, except for the part where nobody was even trying to win. When O when, he asked rhetorically because he knew what was coming, will this series really embrace the seed it’s nurturing of the darker, grittier side of life on the fringes.