DS9: S1E13: “The Storyteller”

In which Nog gives a class on realpolitik and O’Brien rants against Space-Emmanuel-Goldstein.

Sisko, the Emissary and the Federation administrator of the symbol of Bajoran oppression/liberation, has been asked by the Bajoran government to mediate a land dispute between two rival factions. And for some ridiculous reason he’s tapped his Chief of Operations as the one who’s going to pilot some mission. This is like making your CTO be your chauffeur. That is to say it’s very stupid. Sadly, it seems the O’Brien’s objections are more based on avoiding Bashir’s insufferable enthusiasm than the fact that it’s an insane assignment.

"I would like to wrap up these negotiations by ten-thirty. It's a school night."

“I would like to wrap up these negotiations by ten-thirty. It’s a school night.”

The first of the factioneers arrives, an unexpectedly young woman in charge of the Paku named Varis Sul. Something about harsh land making harsh people and probably the burden of command thrust upon her at a young age, et cetera.

Trapped in a runabout with Bashir, O’Brien is desperately trying to avoid that puppyish enthusiasm, without overtly telling Julian how annoying he is. Bashir desperately wants to be liked. We’ve seen this before but usually where women were concerned, but it’s clearly a generalized trait, and one we’ll be coming back to. The two of them beam down to Bajor in order to help out with some sort of emergency situation which, judging by the setup for the scene, is going to be silly. In fact, one guy is dying and this is being treated as peril for the whole village.

A study in contrasts.

A study in contrasts.

Back on the station, the establishing shot of the negotiations is great, but the negotiations themselves are starting poorly. We have a middle-aged adult in texured, patterned, and styled clothing talking about how great Cardassian replicators are while shoving pie into his face, and the young woman in simple solid colors being impatient. Already we can guess quite a lot about what this dispute is about and how the guy was probably in charge of a Quisling faction.

In fact, the dispute is about a treaty that says that a river was the border between their lands, but the Cardassians diverted the river into the Navot lands, cutting a whole bunch of territory off. I guess that’s points for subverting the obvious expectations. Varis storms out of the meeting, and is therefore in the right place at the right time for Nog to become infatuated from afar.

This guy plays an incredible King Lear.

This guy plays an incredible King Lear.

The old dude that Bashir was sent to save is dying of old age and being cryptic, and the entire village is panicking about the imminent arrival of the Dal Rok which will destroy the village unless old dying dude can use some mystic traditional wisdom on it. While Jake and Nog jointly hit on Varis, Bashir and O’Brien go out to watch the old guy do his thing – shouting at clouds. Granted,these are clouds that the fancy Federation tricorders can’t properly analyze. Also, the guy collapses before he can finish and the cloud starts blowing apart the village, and has to hand the job of directing the village’s Daily Hate at the cloud off to O’Brien. They succeed, but that leaves O’Brien to do the job alone for the last night of the attack.

The negotiations are going very poorly. As it turns out, Varis is the one being super unreasonable, and is moping when Jake and Nog find her again, and Nog teaches her about economics and trades.

The villagers swarm to O’Brien to offer him gifts because he’s the new Sirah – old storyteller dude. These gifts include fine cloth, gems, and nubile young women. Good thing Bashir is there to corroborate to Keiko how flustered and vehemently disagreeable O’Brien was when he figured that out.

Nog and Jake are going to steal Odo’s bucket with Varis because that’s how they show her a good time. Odo is not amused. Then again, Odo is never amused.

O’Brien is desperately trying to figure out what the Dal Rok thing is all about so that people will stop asking him to bless their babies. The old Sirah’s apprentice is being cagey and suspicious. Cagey, suspicious people always try to sneak up on people they’re jealous of when said people are in front of a mirror.

Turns out the secret of the Dal Rok is that you control it with a fragment of one of the Orbs of the Prophets, which is used as a kind of psychic resonator to first focus the people’s fears into a shape and then to ‘defeat’ it, as part of some ancient unification ceremony. Man, I was spot-on with that Daily hate quip up there. Go me. Now that O’Brien knows the secret and someone anxious for the job, all that’s left is clan politics.

Similarly, on the station, Varis has hung out with Jake enough to get a measure of Sisko as a person, and manages to actually confide in him long enough to get some courage to compromise.

Man, that Orb shard is pretty impressive technology, or whatever it is. One has to wonder what else it could do, and more importantly suggests a lot about what a full-sized Orb can do aside from just giving visions.

Did we miss something awesome?