In which we meet the true face of evil.
O’Brien is trying to force his wife to lick his jumja stick. It’s got a natural sweetness, you see. See, his new Bajoran technician has been teaching him an awful lot, which immediately pisses Keiko off. Or almost. She likes to test (read, emotionally abuse) him, you see.
Keiko is teaching her class, and talking about the wormhole and its stability when someone in super ceremonial robes walks in. Keiko goes on about the artificial nature of the wormhole before she is interrupted and corrected. She didn’t call the wormhole aliens ‘Prophets,’ you see. And she makes sure to point out that ships can pass through the wormhole not because of nebulous-but-known properties of vertiron particles, but by the hands of the Prophets. Look upon the face of hatred and despair.
O’Brien shows up a little late for repairs and they’re already done, but we do get to find out that a tool used for opening and closing security-sealed panels is missing. At this same time, Keiko is talking with Sisko about Vedek Winn, who’s in contention for next Kai (space-pope) and is one of those people that believes that if you shout loud enough faith can retroactively turn off science. Even Kira agrees that the cirriculum should be changed, and immediately we get into private school vouchers. This episode is already way too real. I require more scotch.
Now here’s the thing. Sisko is the Emissary. Literally, the prophet of the Prophets (and how that’s the word that came up in the UT for the Bajoran gods I still don’t know). This Vedek Winn may be wearing the Sydney Opera House on her head, and be doing that creepy I-know-who-you-are-without-turning-around thing, but technically Sisko is the space-messiah and he outranks her. Then again, he doesn’t actually like the title. Winn grabs his ear, just like Opaka did, and she talks about a disagreement she had with the space-pope and how she would do anything to understand the Prophets. Also, that if Keiko doesn’t stop teaching science, Winn “won’t be responsible.”
In order to find his missing space-wrench, O’Brient does a search for all unidenfied sources of the metal his tool was made of, and finds a heap of slag in a plasma vent, along with some organic material. Presumably, the person who stole his wrench. O’Brien is chatting about this with Keiko later, and is refused a Jumja stick for appearing in public with her. After narrowly avoiding a punch-up in the middle of the Promenade, they run into a picket line in front of the school.
Vedek Winn has come up with a solution – avoid the topic of the wormhole altogether, as well as anything else that conflicts with Bajoran theology. Because this is stupid, Keiko refuses, and is left with exactly five students after all the Bajorans leave.
O’Brien is still running down this missing wrench situation. The whole thing is fishy because his tool was taken without asking. That’s Just Not Done among Starfleet engineering circles.
Sisko is trying hard, in a Federation-Prime-Directive way, to teach Jake that it’s important not to ridicule the Bajorans for the faith that helped them survive the Occupation with their culture and beliefs intact. Which, while a valid point, doesn’t make Winn any less greasy and awful. Then Sisko goes to meet Vedek Berial, who is unique among Bajoran spiritual leaders in that he doesn’t immediately grab Sisko’s ear. He is immediately set up as likeable – humble, aspirations of being a gardener, drafted into the priesthood rather than seeking it. He’s also the leading choice for next space-pope. He’s a good-ish guy, but he can’t help because of politics.
On the station, several Bajoran crew have come down with a case of the Blue Flu. This is one of those things where it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you do your friggin’ job. Way too real. Oh, sidebar, the dead crewman has now been proved to be killed beforehand and placed in the plasma conduit to have the body disposed of. In tracking his movements, O’Brien shows up late again and his bajoran tech has already run the evidence scans and found nothing. That’s super convenient. They have a moment together and O’Brien runs away from any hint of flirting or intimacy with a woman who isn’t his wife like there’s a reactor breach. Good man.
Odo has a brief chat with Quark as some Bajoran zealots pile onto the station to help keep the school closed. Odo knows Quark isn’t a murderer, but makes sure to mention that he’s in the market for information about said murderer, and Odo generally strikes a pretty good bargain. O’Brien also brings Odo an electronic lockpick, and Odo manages to concoct a hypothesis that makes it fit, just as the school blows up just like Vedek Winn vaguely threatened would happen.
Sisko makes it clear that he is holding Winn responsible for the bombing, in the form of riling up the population into a frenzy. As the commander in an organization that’s keeping the Cardassians out, if not as Bajoran Jesus. He manages a pretty good speech, but he walks away before he can see Winn nodding conspiratorially to O’Brien’s new tech, and her acknowledging it. So yeah.
Her wretched villainy has inspired Bariel to come and help him clean up the mess on the Promenade. Of course, that doesn’t mean the political concerns have gone away. It just means things are so dire that he’s willing to deal with them.
And the tech, whatever she and Vedek Winn are planning, is a little worried that she won’t be able to escape and will be executed. Who does she think is going to execute her? The Federation? Maybe they’re still used to Cardassian ‘justice.’ Either that, or what she’s doing will get her executed under Bajoran law. Good thing is that O’Brien has found whatever file she was using to plan and begun decrypting it. It’s an escape route, and they can backtrack it to locate the area that someone was setting up an escape from. This leads him back to the security panel he and murdergirl were ‘fixing’ earlier. The job was meant to shut down weapon detectors on the Promenade, which we’ll recall having seen earlier when the Duras sisters came aboard. Since all this began two days ago, before Winn even set foot on the station, there are two possibilities. Either she was planning to murder Sisko and is good at planning, or she was planning to draw Bariel out of his isolation and murder him and is great at planning.
A painful minute and a half of slow-motion later and Bariel has been narrowly missed, Sisko gets to be an action hero, and Kira is now incredibly disillusioned with Winn’s political ambitions. It’s a learning moment for her, but not exactly a pleasant one. Kira wanted to be a True Believer… like Winn… once upon a time.