In which Quark commits malicious altruism, Nerys and Miles go on a field trip, and we have a new crew member.
I know it didn’t feel all that portentious, but “In the Hands of Prophets” was the DS9 season finale, which in any decently run narrative ought to mean that we’ve met some sort of major antagonist – but all we really came up with was a grasping, treacherous, devout, slimy space-cardinal. Plus, Star Trek is episodic, and TNG is only barely experimenting with continuity at this point. Surely, Winn was just a useful and possibly-recurring character with no real long-term significance, right?
Anyway, here we are aboard Deep Space Nine. Life goes on. Quark is being harassed by Odo for providing valid law enforcement intelligence. Quark insists it’s a good-faith effort. Odo is suspicious because he’s always suspicious, but Quark will have even his own (murderous, lest we forget) brother that he has no other motive in this gift than to throw Odo off his game.
I will take this moment to point out that since Deep Space Nine started, Ferengi are a lot less one-dimensional space pirates. TNG made them out to be entirely worthless as a species. DS9 starts with Quark as a main character (who we can see doing slice-of-life activities) and that change made it even into TNG for Suspicions, where we got a Ferengi scientist more interested in laurels than latinum. It’s a good change. Makes me glad the Federation never did wind up nuking the Ferengi homeworld.
Afterwards, Quark makes small talk with a purple-haired lady with a particularly streamlined forehead who wants to deliver a Bajoran earring she got from some Cardassian. Something fishy is going on (obviously) but what it is at this point is unclear. Quark goes to Kira to get the skinny on the earring. She recognizes it immediately, and it’s important.
Jake is back and now he’s going to date some Bajoran girl and trying to find the right activity for dating on a small space station. Since Ben Sisko won’t let his son take a girl to the Ferengi sex-theater or be alone in their quarters, the options are somewhat limited. Sisko’s crisis of parenting will have to be put on hold as he is accosted by Kira for the A-plot. He orders a Klingon coffee, and the Replicator somehow knows to hold the order preparation until Kira says she doesn’t want anything. This is especially odd since she’s nowhere near the replicator so it’s not a proximity thing. It can just tell.
Kira wants to borrow a runabout for reasons that she tries desperately to convince Sisko he doesn’t want to know about. Now, maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I find it somewhat significant that she makes him ask three times before giving him an answer. I wouldn’t really notice it except for all the other Bajor/Israel parallels that pop up the instant you start being aware of the allegory. She wants to go to the fourth planet of the Cardassian system to rescue the greatest Bajoran resistance leader ever, which that earring belonged to. With a lot of factional division and even rioting on Bajor, Kira is convinced that a hero of the war could bring Bajor together far better than any provisional government ever could.
O’Brien has discovered a piece of Bajoran graffiti on the station which was apparently important enough to call Sisko down for personally. This universe has some serious delegation problems. You don’t need to call the mayor down to see very single bit of nationalist spray-paint. You tell him you have a group of KKK-wannabes on the station and have done with it. Because he’ll do something like try to declare tht all areas are high-security, thus spreading the security forces thin.
Sisko also has a talk with Dax, whose advice is to give Kira the runabout because the Cardassians swore they’d released all the Bajoran prisoners. Interesting implications there – if Kira does get caught mounting a rescue operation, there’s probably some legalese that they can pull to keep the Cardassians and the Federation from officially re-entering hostilities.
The stipulation is that O’Brien will be going with her. He’s a better pilot than Kira, Sisko wants Bajor to have a strong leader who owes the Federation a little something, O’Brien has some expertise in stealth, and he hates Cardassians almost as much as Kira does. They’re committed, between the two of them, to come back with their shields or on them.
Kira manages to bluff the communications post with some insider jargon, and they get in close enough to locate dozens of Bajoran prisoners in a prison camp. Cutting to the prison camp, it seems to be a real prison camp, so at least we’re not dealing with one of those things where Worf tries to rescue some people who don’t want to be rescued.
To sneak in, Kira is posing as a prostitute. For the five seconds it takes to get close enough to headbutt him and kick him in the chest. The whole jailbreak lasts about a minute and a half, not counting the escape firefight. For a heist junkie, it’s somewhat jarring, but highly efficient. Kira is, however, forced to make the hard choice to leave some people behind to cover the retreat.
When Kira gets back, she finds that Gul Dukat has offered a formal apology to Bajor, as the high command was “unaware that Bajoran prisoners were being held.” So, no hostilities. In sick bay, Bashir continues to be completely incapable of taking a hint as he fixes up the resistance leader, who can’t go anywhere on the station without people gaping at him with awe.
Enter the politician. Although unofficially he approvies, officially he has to reprimand Kira for provoking the crap out of the Cardassians. Plus, since Lee Nellis, the fabled resistance leader and reluctant icon was rescued on the premise of being a uniting force for Bajor, one can guess that the Vedek Winns of the world will be pissed he’s back because it means less power to go around.
Nellis gets shown to quarters, and it looks like they finally got around to replacing all the Cardassian table-sculpture. Nellis is happy the Cardassians are gone from Bajor, but he’s definitely not thrilled about being set up as any kind of political leader. So far we’ve only had the braodest of strokes about the people who came out of the Resistance. Kira was forged a bit brittle and took most of the season to loosen up. Nellis seems to be the archetype that took up a weapon because someone had to and wound up being good at it, but never wanted to be a leader.
Quark is counting out money for his brother. As disparities between employees and CEOs go, 14-16% is, depressingly, not all that bad by modern standards. Still, it alienates Rom, and allows Quark to be alone in order to be accosted by figures in red robes and featureless masks. Featureless including no nose ridges, which is a little surprising. I presume they’re Bajoran because they branded Quark with the Bajoran Swastika, but the masks didn’t even have the suggestion of the ridges. I find it hard to articulate why this is surprising, but… well… it is.
Jake got stood up on his date, because he’s not a Bajoran. His girlfriend’s dad is apparently a bit of a traditionalist. It’s a well-spent scene in which we get to focus for a moment not on the broad sweeping ‘nationalism is bad’ message but the real individual costs.
Also, Nellis is trying to run away from his destiny by stowing away on a dinosaur freighter. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether the Progenetors ever made it to that planet. I digress – Nellis tells the story of a moment of ‘heroics’ when Nellis basically accidentally killed the infamous Gul Zarael when Nellis fell down a mountain. Having done the undeserving-folk-hero thing, he refuses to do it again. Until Sisko gives him The Talk, that is. Lee Nellis gets the completely brand-new title of Nabok, which we’ll have to assume sounds a lot more like ’emperor’ or ‘regnant’ and a lot less like ‘smeerp’ in the original Bajoran. It might also help that a Nabok has no historical powers that might be a surprise to the career politicians on Bajor if he proves difficult to control. He’ll have only the powers they give him.
Like replacing Kira.