DS9: S1E14: “Progress”

In which we rehash another episode, but with a more personal twist.

You really can’t win with Star Trek sometimes. Either an episode is covering topics which are no longer relevant and it has no emotional impact, or it’s covering topics which are relevant and then you get depressed because it’s been more than 20 years and we should be past this by now. Why did I feel the need to mention that? Oh, no reason…

Jake and Nog are playing probably Go Fish and overhear Quark complaining about an order of something called Yamok sauce, which only Cardassians like. I find myself intrigued as to what it can possibly taste like, given the wide variety of sauces that humans will put into their faces. Nog senses the opportunity for profit.

"Ugh. Civilians."

“Ugh. Civilians.”

Meanwhile, Bajor is getting ready to tap geotherman energy from one of its moons. Bajor has at least five moons and at least one of them is large enough to have a molten core. I am not up on my exoplanetology, but I’m fairly certain that makes it a really big moon. Insert Death Star joke here.

There’s a bit of an establishing character moment for Sisko here too. He’s playing as impatient with the hovering bureaucrat, with an attitude that’s a lot more Kirk-like than Picard-like. He doesn’t quite tell the civilian to shut up and get off my bridge, but you can tell he’s getting close. You’d think he’d be a little more understanding about such a monumental energy project that will help Bajor remember the vast advantages the Federation provides, but maybe this guy is asking a lot of questions.

I was torn on the caption between "Bajoran Gothic" and "The Bajoran Chainsaw Massacre"

I was torn on the caption between “Bajoran Gothic” and “The Bajoran Chainsaw Massacre”

Dax is chatting with Kira about possibly going on a date with Morn when they spot an inhabitant of the moon who hasn’t evacuated yet, and Kira beams down to chat. The moon is habitable, one might even say lush, and positively brimming with provincial farmer-types using tools that look, at first glance, completely insane. At second glance, they begin to make sense, but at third glance they just look stupid again. One thing is for sure,though. Stay away from farmers. Just, you know, in general.

The peril doesn’t last long, but the farmer still thinks of Kira as more of a jackbooted thug than a fellow Bajoran. Case in point – the villages flooded for the Three Gorges Dam were the same species as the government doing the flooding, but their villages still got flooded.

Nog tries to sell all of his uncle’s surplus Yamok sauce to a trader who deals within the Cardassian borders, but rather than Latinum, all they get is 14,400 self-sealing stem-bolts – ideal for when you don’t want to seal your own stem-bolts. Stem Bolts would seem at first blush to be more fungible than a food commodity, at least. Plus, they don’t go bad.

Kira is going to sit down for supper with the farmer, and has the three hours of cook time it will take in order to convince him that he should leave his farmstead, along with the two mute Cardassian escapees. So the discussion here is that 40 years ago, the farmer escaped from occupied Bajor and settled his farm. Now, a free Bajor wants to make the farming better for everyone else, at the cost of his own livelihood. And he’d rather just die at home rather than uproot.

Now, one question is obviously ‘is the price of energy worth the cost.’ It might seem like this is a no-brainer at first, but keep in mind this moon is habitable and supports humanoid and vegetative life. It has an ecosystem, which the geothermal well is evidently going to disrupt. Can Bajor not put a cluster of solar collectors in orbit? I’m sure the Federation would be thrilled to help them out. Another question is whether Kira should, given her government’s insistence on the drilling project, be trying to convince the farmer at all. Once he says he’d rather die than move, should she really be doing anything other than thanking him for his time, giving him a painless suicide pill in case the environmental devastation is too lingering for his taste, and beaming heading back to the station with the next convoy?

ballsOn the station, we learn some more interesting things about Ferengi culture – namely, that customer satisfaction was never a Thing. If a customer spills a drink, Ferengi culture is such that nobody would think of comping a fresh one in order to boost customer retention rates. This is a very subtle but powerful reinforcer that to the Ferengi, capitalsim is much more of a religion than an economic theory – it’s so ingrained in Quark that you don’t give stuff away that he can’t even consider changing his policy to be a bit more cosmopolitan and appeal to a wider range of people.

Then again, he has a monopoly on social drinking and gambling on this station, so to hell with the customers.

Old Farmer Guy Mulibok is telling Kira the story of how he built the farm with his own two hands, literally. And he gets Kira to admit the virtues of tenacity in the face of insurmountable opposition.

Jake and Nog, now in posession of a hundred gross of self-sealing stem-bolts, are trying desperately to figure out what they’re for. Even O’Brien doesn’t know, although O’Brien has no real pressing reason to, oh, look it up rather than going on a side-quest across the entire station.

So, despite the possibility of a longer-term method of energy collection (which will take too long) and the technological solution of just kidnapping the farmer by transporter beam, or even the option to just do the thing and let him die/rescue him at the last minute when he decides he’d rather not stick around, instead Kira and two nameless Bajoran constables are going to go say more words at him.

This is a decent take on Data’s problems getting some stubborn homesteaders to move out, right down to getting assaulted. But Data didn’t bring two stupid goons with him and accidentally kill one of the people he was sent to save.

Now the plot threads start to come together – Nog and Jake contact the original buyer of the stem-bolts. He doesn’t have money, but he does have land, which will likely be where old man Mulibok gets relocated to, despite already rejecting the Bajoran government’s offer of land before all this phasering happened. Also, Nog doesn’t understand the value of real estate somehow.

Bashir rushed over to the moon to save Mulibok, but as soon as he wakes up he reminds Kira that if she actually wanted what she thinks she wants – him off the land and safely relocated to Bajor – she would have done it while he was unconscious. This decides her – she’s going to stick around and take care of him and build his weird hexagonal-pyramid kiln. After a short CYA-dance, Sisko goes down to talk to Kira and figure out what the plan is – get back to work or get ground up in the wheels of progress just like the farm, the farmer, and the moon.

"Every time they make a Robin Hood movie they burn our village down!"

“Every time they make a Robin Hood movie they burn our village down!”

So, as it turns out, the Bajoran government wants to build a thing but needs the land that Nog and Jake just bought in order to do it. They go through Quark to launder the real estate and Quark becomes very proud of his nephew. And Kira helps Mulibok build his kiln as a nice little monument to futility before the Bajoran government sets the atmosphere on fire. Old Man Mulibok makes the mistake of saying “as long as that cottage is still standing, I stay here” so she burns it down. Very respectfully, but burns it down nonetheless.

Did we miss something awesome?