Written by Gordon Dawson
Directed by Jonathan West
Season 3, Episode 24
Production episode 40512-470
Original air date: May 22, 1995
Station log: Sisko getting his ass kicked by O’Brien at darts is interrupted by a call from the Bajoran provisional government. He then interrupts Kira in mid-prayer (she’s praying over a duranja, a lamp of the dead, for Bareil) to tell her that the First Minister of Bajor has died in his sleep, and they’ve appointed Kai Winn to replace him, news that does not give either Sisko or Kira warm fuzzy feelings.
A special election has been called, and Winn is running unopposed, which will make her temporary post permanent for the next six years. Kira is beside herself, but the people view her as the architect of the treaty with Cardassia (never mind that Bareil did all the work and died for it).
Her praying for Bareil is again interrupted, this time by Winn. She thinks the duranja is for the recently deceased First Minister, and is impressed that she’s still mourning Bareil after three months. Winn is there to ask Kira a favor. Farmers in the Dakhur Province—Kira’s home—are refusing to give up reclamators to Rakantha Province. With the reclamators (necessary to counteract soil poisoning committed by the Cardassians during the occupation), Rakantha can produce items valuable for export, making Bajor a player in interstellar commerce, which will improve their candidacy for Federation membership.
The farmers holding the reclamators are led by Shakaar Edon, the leader of Kira’s resistance cell. Winn wants Kira to convince Shakaar to give them back. She believes Shakaar is acting in his own self-interest at the expense of Bajor; Kira doesn’t buy that. Either way, Winn wants this problem solved quietly and peacefully, and Kira can’t argue with that, so she agrees to talk to him. She beams down to Dakhur and has a happy reunion with Shakaar. He knows why she’s there, and he says he needs time to think about it.
O’Brien continues to kick ass at darts, beating Dax with a bull’s eye. Quark is at this point taking bets on his winning streak, as he’s up to 46 victories in a row—to the point where Quark is scared to death of O’Brien going kayaking and dislocating his “golden shoulder.” However, his worst fears are realized when—while playing a Vulcan—O’Brien reaches for a drink and cries out in agony. Bashir determines that his rotator cuff is torn and he needs surgery immediately. Quark—who was offering 15-1 odds—is devastated.
Kira has a hearty fun dinner with Shakaar and two other fellow resistance fighters, Furel and Lupaza. But they make it clear that they’re not giving up the reclamators. They got the reclamators two months ago after waiting three years, and were promised that they could keep them for a year. That promise was rescinded when the First Minister died.
However, Kira convinces Shakaar to sit down and talk with Winn. She’s less than happy about that, and refuses Kira’s offer to mediate the discussion, dismissing Kira back to DS9. But Kira goes back to Shakaar to convince him to at least compromise, but while they talk, two Bajoran Militia officers show up to arrest Shakaar on orders from the First Minister. Kira—pissed that Winn lied to her—and Shakaar take out the two officers, and head for the caves to grab supplies, and then hide out in the mountains with Furel and Lupaza.
Two weeks go by, and Shakaar, Kira, Furel, Lupaza, and many other Dakhur residents have continued to evade the Militia. Winn asks Sisko for help from Starfleet security, which Sisko refuses. Her response to this refusal is to threaten to withdraw Bajor’s application for Federation membership, which Sisko cites as the latest in a series of severe overreactions on her part. She then doubles down, saying she’ll stop Shakaar by any means necessary.
But Shakaar has gained a crapton of support among the people of Bajor and civil war is looking likely. Having said that, the Militia is getting closer and closer, and they decide to turn and fight, rather than run, setting up an ambush in a canyon. Kira recognizes the leader of the search team: Colonel Lenaris Holem, of the Ornathia Resistance Cell. He was a talented underground fighter, which explains why they haven’t lost them yet. Shakaar orders Kira to aim for his lieutenant, while he’ll take out Lenaris—
—and they can’t pull the trigger, either of them. They can’t fire on fellow Bajorans. Shakaar and Kira go to talk to Lenaris. The first thing Lenaris does is thank them for liberating Gallitep—he had a brother there. They both agree that they didn’t fight the Cardassians so they can shoot fellow Bajorans.
Lenaris takes Shakaar and Kira to see Winn, where Shakaar announces that he’s running for First Minister. If Winn decides to oppose Shakaar, the truth of the situation will come out, that she almost started a civil war over farming equipment. Lenaris also makes it clear that the Militia commanders support Shakaar. So she drops out, and even makes a statement of support for Shakaar.
O’Brien’s shoulder is reconstructed, but he’s no longer in “the zone.” Meanwhile, after three months, Kira finally blows out the flame burning in the duranja.
The Sisko is of Bajor: Winn tries to appeal to Sisko for Starfleet assistance in putting down Shakaar’s little rebellion. There is absolutely no way that Sisko could possibly say yes to this, and Sisko makes this clear. He cuts right to the heart of Winn’s problem of her reach exceeding her grasp.
Don’t ask my opinion next time: We get to meet three members of Kira’s resistance cell, and the dinner with Shakaar, Furel, and Lupaza is by far the most relaxed we’ve ever seen Kira. It’s really fun to see. She also proves herself a more able politician than Winn, as she tries to negotiate a compromise between the two, one that Winn cuts off at the pass (not that Shakaar wins all that many reasonableness points). And in the end, she finally moves on from mourning Bareil.
Preservation of matter and energy is for wimps: Odo plays devil’s advocate with Kira, reminding her that all the Bajoran people see is a beloved kai who just signed a treaty with the Cardassians, not the woman who engineered an assassination attempt and took credit for Bareil’s work.
Rules of Acquisition: Quark takes full advantage of O’Brien being in the zone to run bets. This backfires when O’Brien tears his rotator cuff when Quark’s giving 15-1 odds.
For Cardassia! During the occupation, the Cardassians poisoned a lot of Bajoran soil, which has made farming difficult.
Keep your ears open: “It is one of my observations that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice is that sometimes they make the wrong choice.”
Odo, speaking truth to Kira.
Welcome aboard: Louise Fletcher is back as Winn. Just as with last time, we also get three new recurring characters: Duncan Regehr—last seen as Ronin on TNG’s “Sub Rosa”— as Shakaar, Diane Salinger as Lupaza, and William Lucking as Furel. Regehr will be back in “Crossfire,” while Furel and Lupaza will return in “The Darkness and the Light.”
Sherman Howard plays the Vulcan dart player, having last appeared as a Tallarian in “Suddenly Human” on TNG; he’ll play a Klingon in Voyager’s “Prophecy.”
And finally we have our Robert Knepper moment, as I’d totally forgotten that John Doman—probably best known as Major/Colonel/Deputy Commissioner Rawls on The Wire—played Lenaris, in his first television role.
Trivial matters: Although he’ll only appear onscreen twice more, Shakaar will continue as Bajor’s First Minister for the duration of the series—and also beyond, in the tie-in fiction. His time in the resistance is chronicled in the Terok Nor novels Night of the Wolves and Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison. He appears as First Minister in the novels Objective: Bajor by John Peel, Wrath of the Prophets by Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, & Robert Greenberger, The 34th Rule by Armin Shimerman, David R. George III, & Eric A. Stillwell, Abyss by David Weddle & Jeffrey Lang, Twilight by George, This Gray Spirit by Heather Jarman, and Cathedral by Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels—in the latter novel, he’s assassinated. He’s also in the short story “The Tribbles’ Pagh” by Ryan M. Williams in Strange New Worlds 9.
Lenaris also appears in several works of tie-in fiction: during his resistance days in Night of the Wolves, and as a member of the Bajoran Militia in the novels Demons of Air and Darkness by your humble rewatcher (leading a fleet of Bajoran Militia ships on a rescue operation), the aforementioned Cathedral, Lesser Evil by Robert Simpson, Unity by S.D. Perry (where he’s one of the signatories to Bajor’s admittance into the Federation), and Fragments and Omens by J. Noah Kym (the Bajor segment of Worlds of DS9 Volume 2), as well as Martin & Mangels’s short story “The Orb of Opportunity” in Prophecy and Change.
The Shakaar resistance cell is seen in action in Night of the Wolves and Dawn of the Eagles, as well as the novel Fearful Symmetry by Olivia Woods and Jarman’s short story “The Officers’ Club” in Tales from the Captain’s Table.
This episode establishes that resistance cells are named after their leaders. Kira’s cell was identified as the Shakaar resistance cell back in “Duet,” but this is the first time it’s been made clear that it’s the name of the leader.
Dakhur was established as Kira’s birthplace in “Second Skin,” in which episode Kira also mentioned spending weeks on end hiding out in the very same hills that she, Shakaar, Lupaza, Furel, and the rest hide out in here.
Writer Gordon Dawson worked with show-runner Ira Steven Behr on Bret Maverick. Indeed, Dawson gave Behr his first TV writing assignment.
Walk with the Prophets: “I’m in the zone!” One of DS9’s strengths in its first season and a half was episodes that focused on its location proximate to Bajor. The struggle of Bajor coming out of the occupation was the focus of several of excellent stories in the first two seasons—“Past Prologue,” “Progress,” “Duet,” “In the Hands of the Prophets,” “The Homecoming,” “The Circle,” “The Siege,” “Cardassians,” “Necessary Evil,” “The Collaborator”—but it’s been more in the background this season. Oh sure, we’ve gotten ganders at Bajor’s situation in “Fascination,” “Life Support,” and “Destiny,” not to mention the occupation biting folks on the ass in “Civil Defense,” but none of it has had the bite of the earlier episodes.
In “Shakaar,” we have bite, as Winn is appointed temporary First Minister, with her election to the job permanently in the bag. Of course, the viewer knows stuff the people of Bajor don’t: Winn tried to have Bareil assassinated (which the station crew knows, but can’t prove) and was part of Jaro’s attempted coup (which nobody on the station even knows) and took credit for Bareil’s work on the Cardassian treaty, but all the Bajoran people see is the good stuff.
Winn isn’t a bad politician—mostly she’s able to get her way by sounding so incredibly reasonable and kind and polite—but she lets the dual power of First Minister and kai go right to her head. I’m amused that she’s so focused on the benefits of Federation membership that she totally misunderstands one of the fundamental tenets of the Federation—if she did, she never would have even asked Sisko for Starfleet assistance.
But the heart of this episode is Kira, the former resistance fighter who has become a bureaucrat against her will because there isn’t anything to fight anymore. Just as Garak declared sadly that he’s a very good tailor, Kira has become a very good bureaucrat, and the only reason she doesn’t succeed here is because Winn is stubborn. But the occupation wasn’t that long ago, and it doesn’t take much to get Shakaar, Furel, Lupaza, and Kira to go back to the old ways of hiding in the hills.
And then comes the big moment, when Shakaar takes aim at Lenaris and Kira takes aim at his lieutenant, and suddenly it’s not a game of cat-and-mouse anymore, it’s Bajorans taking aim at other Bajorans. And they can’t do it.
Many have taken this episode to task for the abrupt ending, as we go from Shakaar, Kira, and Lenaris trying to find a peaceful way out of the situation to Shakaar announcing his candidacy, Lenaris saying the Militia’s on his side, and Winn packing her bags. It is indeed abrupt—but the specifics of how that happens doesn’t matter as much, truly, because the important moment was when Shakaar and Kira realized that they couldn’t fire on Lenaris and his people and showing us how they got out of killing each other in the canyon. The rest was just followup.
Where the episode loses points, truly, is that we’re told that Shakaar is gaining popular support by Sisko in his conversation with Winn, but we don’t really see it. In addition, in order to make that in any way convincing, we find out that Shakaar and the gang have been hiding out in the Dakhur hills for two weeks, which strains credulity. For one thing, the folks hiding weren’t anywhere near dirty enough to have been hiding out in hills for that long. For another, Kira was AWOL for a fortnight and there are no consequences for this?
Some of the above could easily have been solved by excising the painful B-plot of O’Brien being “in the zone” with darts. A snoozeworthy, paint-by-numbers subplot of no consequence or interest except to give the rest of the cast some dialogue.
Still, the episode is a strong and powerful one, mostly due to some superb acting. John Doman is particularly convincing as Lenaris, the old soldier who doesn’t want to fight the wrong battle, and Duncan Regehr makes up for his vomit-inducing turn in “Sub Rosa” by giving us a charismatic yet tough leader in Shakaar. You can see why people followed him. And Diane Salinger and William Lucking are a delight as Furel and Lupaza, putting real faces on the underground, something we never really had before.
But the glue that holds it all together is a fantastic Nana Visitor. Kira goes through a lot in this episode, from frustration over Winn’s appointment to her struggle trying to reconcile her respect for the office with her lack of respect for the person holding it to her impressive attempts to broker a solution to the problem that neither Winn nor Shakaar seem all that interested in to how easily she dives back into being the underground terrorist. The best, though, is seeing her at dinner with Shakaar, Furel, and Lupaza. Back in “In the Hands of the Prophets” Kira said she no longer knew what “okay” looked like, and here at dinner with the people she fought with, she’s actually completely happy for the first time since we met her in “Emissary.” It’s a pleasure to see.
Warp factor rating: 7
Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at Arisia 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts this weekend. His schedule can be found here, including a reading Friday from The Klingon Art of War and a panel Sunday on the state of Star Trek in 2014.