DS9: S2E02: “The Circle”

In which violence escalates, major players are revealed, and I try to scrub my brain clean of the images forced upon it. 

So, let’s recap. There’s a band of Bajoran nationalists on the station, Kira just rescued an accidental war hero, the Cardassians were surprisingly nicer about it than her own people, and Kira got ousted by her leadership in favor of the guy she just rescued who never wanted the job. This episode is already brutal, and it’s only the continuation, not the conclusion.

"Ooh, this is a nifty little excuse not to maintain eye contact!"

“Ooh, this is a nifty little excuse not to maintain eye contact!”

Sisko’s trying to throw his weight around, but Kira’s transfer is being sold as a ‘promotion,’ and Sisko is only being gracious about it if you are unfamiliar with insulting periphrasis. Never one to risk letting his point not come across, Sisko then spells it out. It seems, as well, that Nellis is being assigned to DS9 in part to keep him safe from more nationalist riots in the capitol. It never ends for Sisko either – Jake calls him because someone defaced their quarters with the same Bajoran Swastika we saw before. I have to ask at this point – is yellow a significant color, or is that just the only color spray paint they have?

"Oh great, who invited Quark?" "WHO INVITED ANY OF YOU GET OUT OF MY QUARTERS!"

“Oh great, who invited Quark?”
“WHO INVITED ANY OF YOU GET OUT OF MY QUARTERS!”

Odo is appalled that Kira is packing up and leaving. He won’t admit it’s because he and Nerys are friends, but he comes close. This is reminding me of just how good this show gets, because it manages intense character moments without being utterly relentless all the time. I’m looking at you, Battlestar Galactica. For example, people keep dropping by Kira’s quarters to offer moral support in a dramatic moment that slowly but inevitably transforms into a delicious farce.

Bariel shows up to end the hilarity in a somewhat natural manner, to deliver some gossip about excalating sectarian violence and invite Kira back to his monastary. One gets the sense that Bajoran Vedeks are not expected to be celebate or chaste, though it’s not actually said.

It’s also nice to see that there’s no hostility between Lee Nellis, Kira, and Sisko as he relieves her of duty and she goes to spend some time building stone paths through ornamental ponds in an effort to chase a level of tranquility that she just might not have in her. But she’s getting a chance to look at one of the Orbs – the Orb of Prophecy and Change.

She sees the Bajoran chamber. Dax becomes Winn, Bariel urges Kira to listen to the prophets and then he and she are nude together. The words “listen to them” and “you do” are repeated over and over, but that’s so vague as to not even be cryptic. It’s either about the Prophets, or it’s not.

Odo’s chatting with one of his police buddies back on Bajor, who’s talking about a militarization of the area to crack down on the Circle jerks. Quark can see the writing on the wals and is trying to convince Odo to bug out. He began the last season with that too, but this time he’s got news of The Circle getting weapons shipments from a Krisari merchant, which is why he’s warning Odo in the first place. Odo now has to take the odious and terrible step of deuptizing Quark.

With things heeting up, Nellis has come up with the idea of instituting a curfew, and he’s going to reach out to  contacts from the old days. Bariel and Kira chat about her vision… Kira doesn’t want to talk about her sex prophecy, but Bariel had a vision that involved Kira as well. All such pleasant moments must be interrupted, however. First by gunfire, then by Vedek Winn. It’s hard to say which is more unpleasant. Wait, no it’s not.

A Bajoran conference / war room.

A Bajoran conference / war room.

This is a Bajoran war room. Some general is studying the troop deployments trying to quell the rebellion, and one has to wonder when this was built. It’s certainly not Cardassian – too many circles and smooth curves, not nearly enough sharp corners and odd angles. Was this built in the year since the Cardassians left? was it somehow still standing during the Occupation?

Sisko gets light side points for giving information prior to asking for assistance from the General getting Kira settled. We’ll find out if that NPC has a valuable sidequest or influence track later. But if you feel cheated out of sneaky underhanded approaches, Odo snuck aboard the Kresari ship to try to find the weapons shipment. Hopefully, this errand won’t take longer than his liquid cycle. Maybe that’s why they had to delay six hours.

Sisko goes to talk with Kira on his way out of Bajor. They touch base, Kira is still interested in coming back. Then she’s taken by the Circle. Also, Odo has been able to witness the weapons shipment being delivered… by Cardassians, no less. And it turns out that sleazy minister Jaro who kicked Kira out of DS9 to make room for Nellis is in charge of the Circle.

Now, what makes this good is that he has a justification, and it’s a good one, from where he’s sitting. The Bajoran Provisional government is so weak it won’t even call itself a real government. He sees the Federation as just another conquerer. But a) he’s wrong, and b) he’s fine with using Cardassian interrogation tactics to try to get information out of Kira.

Now, in the very next scene, not only has everyone been brought up to speed on Kira’s kidnapping, but Deputy Quark even found out where she’s being kept, and Sisko wastes no time in mounting a rescue operation. Consisting of Starfleet Personnel. Bringing Weapons. Onto Bajor. To ‘rescue’ a Bajoran national with no official ties to Starfleet (anymore). Q was absolutely right, Sisko is way easier to provoke than Picard.

Fortunately for Sisko, Nellis insists on going as well, so that if they’re captured, the brand new war hero whose influence Jaro is afraid of will be on hand to vouch for Sisko and oh my god Sisko’s not even armed. Actually, the Bajoran securify forces are the ones who beam down weapons-out, which is a lot better than I thought it was going to be. Bajorans know how to fight.

Bashir, for some reason, decides it’s more important to cut Kira loose than to just pin the commbadge on her and beam her out like he was told to do fifteen seconds ago. Getting real sick of your dumb face, Bashir, since it almost got you and Kira killed. However, Kira knows who’s running the Circle and Odo has proof that they’re being supplied ultimately by Cardassians looking to get the Federation gone so they can move back in. If only they could act on this information.

To Winn Her Heart - a novel by E L James

To Winn Her Heart – a novel by E L James

It should surprise nobody that Vedek Winn and Jaro are in negotiations for political support for each other – I believe the turn of phrase is ‘in bed together.’ She’ll endorse him for political leadership, and he’ll work towards her ascension as Kai, and with that cemented they send a couple of Bajoran battleships towards the station. The real kicker is that since the Bajorans don’t know the Cardassians are involved, the political struggle is internal to Bajor, and the Prime Directive applies. Sisko’s only play is to make the evacuation as thorough as possible and hope that gives him enough time, while obeying the letter of the law, to violate it’s spirit and prevent Bajor from being burned to the dirt again.

Did we miss something awesome?