In which Bareil gets addicted to prophecy, Kira gets a distasteful task, and Winn gets a new dress.
Vedek Bareil is aboard the station, but given how empty the Promenade is and how there’s some dream haze and music, it’s probably some sort of vision. Doubly so when he finds a robed someone evidently hanging from the second floor. That someone winds up being himself. Yup, Orb vision. And as with any prophetic vision given by shards of creatures that exist outside of commonly understood time, we now have to ask whether every decision Bareil makes after this point isn’t caused by a reaction to the vision he’s had. Hey, at least he’s probably not going to kill his dad and doink his mom. Prophecies, amirite?
Next morning, he’s contemplating the endless expanse of space shirtless in Kira’s quarters. He has to leave so that he can be elected Kai. Apparently, Pope of Bajor is an elected position. I suppose that makes sense, since the Kai isn’t actually in touch with the Prophets and it’s not directly analogous to Pope. That would be Sisko’s job. Of course, the problem with that is that your religion then becomes a matter of political horsetrading. Oh, who are we kidding.
Hey look, it’s Vedek Winn, still wearing the Sydney Opera House on her head. Bareil and Winn spit razor blades at each other for a while, and Kira even jumps in because Winn radicalizes assassins. Shortly thereafter, there’s an altercation on the Promenade as someone recognizes a quisling, Kubus Oak. I’m sure now that the Occupation is over, hatchets can be buried. Or not. Odo places Kubus, who’s been living on Cardassia for a few years, under arrest.
Looks like Bareil is having another vision. In this one, he’s been made Kai and sees Opaka. Winn makes ominous threats even in the vision, and Bareil receives the gift of a venomous snake, which becomes a noose. Maybe Bareil should lay off the glowy stuff.
Odo has a chat with Kubus. Kubus’s role was a liaison between the occupation forces and the quisling government. His defense is that he helped keep some semblance of order, but he never liked working for Dukat. It doesn’t really help his case, since he was called out by name in a document exiling all collaborators. There are strong feelings about him, and if you think this isn’t going to be used as a point of contention between Winn and Bareil, you haven’t been watching how DS9 does plotlines very closely.
Winn goes to Sisko to try to mend some bridges. Sisko is not quick to help repair this relationship, given Winn’s political agitations last time over and above her underhanded tactics. Winn assures him that now she’s all for keeping the Federation around. This is so that she can wheedle a fake endorsement out of him on the offchance that Sisko won’t immediately know what she’s up to.
Oh hey, look at that, Vedek Winn granted Kubus sanctuary on Bajor. I’m gonna say right now that if Nerys were to vaporize Winn right now it would save a lot of trouble in the long run, because somehow Winn managed to gain one of the literally four most hated Bajorans a pardon. Influence like that is a little terrifying. One of the things she looked up to get this done was, oddly enough, one of the recurring characters in Bareil’s visions. That Bajoran, Prylar Bek, another collaborator, and one who got Kai Opaka’s son killed in ambush. The story is apparently cut and dried, but you know how these things go.
Kira has found a way to procedurally block Kubus from getting onto Bajor by using enough scanning technology to make her meet the priestmoot. This forces Winn to reveal why she wanted Kubus in the first place, because he has testimony that reveals Bareil was responsible for the massacre. Even the accusation of such a thing would ruin Bareil – it would be utterly devastating to the Bajoran faith in the moral authority of their Kai. Like letting a former Nazi be pope.
Now Winn has the chance to rope Kira into doing her investigations. Kubus has some testimony about Bareil and Bek having chatted and argued for a few hours. It’s pretty flimsy, so Kira has to ask Bareil. His explanation of the meeting is that Bek was overwhelmed with guilt for his role in the massacre, and that conversation was under the seal of confession. The next plan of attack is to look up computer records, but the suspicion has already crawled into Kira’s brain like one of those slugs and taken root.
Also note in this scene the subtle hint that Odo is in love with Kira and devastated to hear that she’s in love with Bareil.
The investigation finds a seal on the assembly records, which only a Vedek could put in place. This suggests, of course, that some Vedek between then and now wanted to lock away some records – either Bareil to hide his guilt as best he could, Winn to make it look like Bareil is guilty, or some third party for either, both, or none of the previous reasons.
Next stop is Quark’s to take advantage of his extralegal talents. Kira and Odo want him to break into the records. Quark wants written indemnification, but settles for Odo not beating him up. While Quark is busy, Odo talks about Bek’s suicide – hanged himself from the promenade right outside of Quark’s. Odo takes a moment to be cynical about humanoids under pressure – a theme that will be repeated several times as this series slowly deconstructs the shining tower that TNG built. When Quark finishes breaking into the records, there’s nothing there, so Kira goes to O’Brien to do some data forensics.
O’Brien’s best idea is to find out who erased the logs using the fragments of the authorizing retinal scan, which winds up being Bareil. Tough luck there – either he really is guilty or Winn is a lot better at planting evidence than Kira is at uncovering it. Bareil is having another vision, one which seems to confirm his complicity, and which also has him making out with Vedek Winn and stabbed by Kira. Things aren’t looking good for Bareil. When he comes out of it, Kira demands an explanation. Bareil’s defense is that giving the Cardassians a victory over a small group of militants prevented them from glassing 1200 civilians. Sometimes, DS9 seems determined to tell us, there are no good choices, but you have to make one regardless. It’s hard to know if there was ever a right time for him to come clean, although if there were, it was before the election for Kai was down to him and Winn.
Kira has her duty to discharge, but it turns out Bareil has already withdrawn himself from the election. I will say this for Winn – she doesn’t need to make Kira say the words. It’s almost kind of her. But Kira is still bothered, because she doesn’t believe Bareil would hide from the consequences. Before getting closure there, she has to pay her respects to the new Kai, who says things that only supervillains ever say.
In fact, Kira finds out that Bareil can’t have done it, because he has a perfect alibi, but withdrew anyway. He was covering for Opaka, who made the decision to let her own child die to save the civilians. And Bareil took the fall so as not to tarnish the Bajoran’s faith in their past leaders, at the expense of putting Lady MacBeth on the throne of the Prophets. At least Kira and Bareil get to keep banging. That’s worth the future of Bajor, right?