Jun 11 2013 3:00pm

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Progress”

Written by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Les Landau
Season 1, Episode 14
Production episode 40511-415
Original air date: May 9, 1993
Stardate: 46844.3

Station log: Quark is annoyed that Broik forgot to cancel an order of yamok sauce, since only Cardassians can stand the stuff. Nog, who is playing cards with Jake, overhears Quark berating his employee and views it as an opportunity, to Jake’s confusion.

With Federation assistance, Bajor is tapping the molten core of Jeraddo, one of Bajor’s moons. Kira and Dax do a final pass over the moon to make sure that there’s no life—the moon was evacuated, as the core-tapping will make the place uninhabitable—but they detect some humanoid life in a sector that shouldn’t have anyone there. While Dax continues the search, Kira beams down to find herself at a house where two Bajorans are threatening her with pitchforks. Yes, really. They’re both mute thanks to torture by Cardassians (which means they can be played by extras who don’t get paid as much), but a third person makes up for it. His name is Mullibok, he thinks Kira is pretty, he’s a farmer who grows magnificent katterpod beans, and he’s not leaving the moon. Kira insists that he has to go; Mullibok says they can talk about it over supper. Kira tells Dax she’s staying for a farewell supper and that she’ll catch a lift back from one of the thermologists.

Nog and Jake talk to a Lissepian freighter captain about the yamok sauce. He won’t pay directly for the sauce, but will trade some self-sealing stembolts that a Bajoran ordered from him and then couldn’t pay for. They agree to terms with the captain—then Nog offers to “get rid” of the yamok sauce for Quark, who is more than happy never to have to see or deal with yamok sauce ever again. They make the trade, then get in touch with the Bajoran who was originally going to buy the stembolts. He couldn’t afford the Lissepian’s price, but Nog and Jake can afford to offer a discount, what with not having any overhead on this particular deal.

Mullibok puts Kira to work in preparing supper, having her peel vegetables and set the table. He also keeps trying to get her pissed off enough to leave, which she sees through in short order, to Mullibok’s mock-disappointment. Kira then tries to explain the facts of life, including the thousands on Bajor that this core-tapping will benefit. Mullibok said he stopped being concerned with Bajor’s welfare when he escaped from a labor camp forty years earlier. Jeraddo is his home now. “If I leave here, I’ll die. And I’d rather die here.”

Over dinner, Mullibok proceeds to tell a very, very tall tale about how he came to settle on Jeraddo, which includes his overpowering six Cardassians singlehandedly, plowing the field with his fingernails, and so on. Kira good-naturedly plays along, and falls right into his rhetorical trap: when he asks how the underground beat the Cardassians against all odds, Kira sighs and says they hung on like fanatics. Mullibok smiles and says he’ll have to remember that one.

Mullibok goes outside to work on a kiln he’s been meaning to finish. He will not leave the moon. He’s perfectly okay with them cracking the moon open, but he’s not going anywhere.

Kira reports back to Sisko and Minister Toran. Toran refuses to delay the project, and orders Kira to evacuate Mullibok and his companions by force if necessary. Kira is disgusted by the order, but Toran doesn’t have a choice; this project is too important and will benefit too many people.

She returns to Jeraddo with two security people, and things go to hell in a hurry. One security guard is wounded by a pitchfork, and Mullibok is shot by a phaser.

Nog and Jake communicate by audio only with the stembolt buyer, and pose as “the Noh-Jay Consortium” so the Bajoran doesn’t realize he’s dealing with two kids. He has no latinum with which to pay for the stembolts, but he does offer seven tessipates of land.

Bashir comes to Jeraddo and treats Mullibok, who refuses to return to DS9 for proper medical care. Kira orders Bashir not to remove him forcibly—and then starts working on Mullibok’s kiln, saying that she’ll stay behind and minister to him.

Returning to the station, Bashir reports to Sisko, who then tells Bashir to officially report that he asked Kira to stay on Jeraddo for humanitarian reasons for a day or so, in order to buy time with Minister Toran and not get Kira into trouble. Sisko heads to Jeraddo, where he finds Kira ministering to Mullibok. One minute with Mullibok, and Sisko immediately understands why Kira likes him.

Sisko gets what Kira is doing, and gets that she’s used to sympathizing with the underdog. But she’s on the other side now. It’s awful, and it stinks, but Mullibok’s fate is already decided. Kira’s isn’t. He beams back, saying he’ll leave a runabout standing by for her.

While playing cards, Nog and Jake overhear Odo asking Quark if he’s heard of the Noh-Jay Consortium. They own a piece of land the government wishes to buy, but nobody can find them, though they do know that they’re based on the station. Quark, pissed that there’s business happening on the station that he doesn’t know about, starts to look into it—then Nog says he and Jake have a business proposition for him that will only cost him five bars of latinum. Quark turns around, sees Nog and Jake, and puts it together, both annoyed and impressed.

The sun comes up on Jeraddo. Kira has been up half the night caring for Mullibok, but when she awakens, he’s out finishing up the kiln. Kira helps him put the last tile in place, and then gets out the bags she’s packed for him. Mullibok insists that as long as the cottage is standing, he’s staying here—which allows Kira to get him in a rhetorical trap just like he did to her earlier. She uses her phaser to blow up the kiln, then lights a torch and sets fire to his cottage.

Mullibok asks Kira to use the phaser on him as well, because, he insists again, he'll die if he leaves Jeraddo. Kira insists even more forcefully that he won’t. She taps her combadge and says, “Two to beam up.”

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Self-sealing stembolts are, presumably, just like regular stembolts, only they seal themselves. O’Brien’s never heard of them and has no idea what they do, which does not fill Nog and Jake, having just acquired a hundred gross of them, with warm fuzzies.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko gives Kira every opportunity to not kill her career by aiding in Mullibok’s extended sit-in, but also delivers a blunt appraisal of the situation that she desperately needs.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is understandably charmed by Mullibok, and desperately wants to find a solution that allows Bajor to get the energy from Jeraddo without losing Mullibok. She’s almost successful.

Rules of Acquisition. Nog gets a tingling in his lobes when he hears about the yamok sauce, and Jake seems to get something similar (though he thankfully doesn’t call it that) when they’re offered the land.

Inexplicably, Nog dismisses the land they’re being offered as “dirt.” Land is, at its heart, the most valuable commodity in the universe. I find it impossible to credit that a Ferengi wouldn’t understand that.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Dax reveals to Kira that Morn asked her out. She said no, but she does admit, to Kira’s horror, that the four wiry hairs that jut out from his face make him kinda cute.

Keep your ears open: “You know you’re causing a lot of trouble.”

“I can’t tell you how delighted I am to hear that!”

Sisko describing Mullibok’s actions and Mullibok summing up his character in eleven words.

Welcome aboard: Michael Bofshever plays the bureaucrat decently as Minister Toran, Nicholas Worth knows an easy mark when he sees one as the Lissepian captain who cleverly unloads a crapton of stembolts on two dumb kids, Terrence Evans and Annie O’Donnell do a lovely job with facial expressions as the mute friends of Mullibok’s, and Daniel Riordan gets stabbed nicely as the Bajoran guard.

But this episode is owned by a stellar performance by Brian Keith as Mullibok.

Trivial matters: Quark claims that only Cardassians can stomach yamok sauce, yet Bashir will order some for him and O’Brien in “The Way of the Warrior.” Despite Quark’s urgings, the condiment will be seen on other occasions, though always consumed or requested by Cardassians.

Mullibok is referenced again in the novel Warchild by Esther M. Friesner, and his Mirror Universe counterpart is seen in the Dark Passions two-book series by Susan Wright. The moon of Jeraddo is seen in the Millennium trilogy by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the videogame The Fallen, and your humble rewatcher’s The Brave and the Bold Book 1.

Walk with the Prophets: “Nasty old tree.” When I first watched DS9 twenty years ago, this episode blew me away, and was when I realized that this show was going to be a force to be reckoned with. It also made it clear that Peter Allan Fields—who already had “The Inner Light” on his resumé—was a huge asset to modern Trek. (He’ll go on to write some of DS9’s best episodes, notably “Duet,” “Necessary Evil,” and “Blood Oath.”)

Although amusingly, Fields wasn’t entirely happy with the episode, because he wrote Mullibok as a manipulative bastard, a much less sympathetic character than Brian Keith actually played. But I think this was the right choice: making Mullibok a charmingly cantankerous old geezer makes it that much harder for Kira to make the decision that Sisko forces her to realize she has to make.

And holy crap does Brian Keith knock it out of the park, playing Mullibok’s charm and, yes, manipulation beautifully. True, he’s not at all subtle about it because he doesn’t have to be. He’s made his choice and he’s comfortable with it. He’s accepted that his time’s up, and he’s willing to let Jeraddo’s destruction take him away. Besides which, he escaped a Bajor run by Cardassians, so he’s used to thinking of a government as more than willing to kill anyone in the way. It doesn’t occur to him (or maybe it does) that the Bajoran government and the Federation wouldn’t want to just condemn three people to death. Ultimately, I don’t think he even cares: he’s made peace with himself.

He also enjoys Kira’s company, and she obviously enjoys his, too. (Later revelations about how Kira’s father died, notably in “Ties of Blood and Water,” will bring her imprinting on Mullibok into more focus.) Nana Visitor does a superb job of keeping up with Keith, from her holding the door open and throwing farming trivia at Mullibok to keep him talking, to the bantering over dinner, to her describing the gnarled old tree of her youth (she no more bothers to be subtle about how that’s an analogy to Mullibok than he did elsewhere), and especially to her banter with him in the doorway when Sisko arrives.

Speaking of Sisko, as good as basically every scene with Mullibok is, the heart and soul of this episode is the come-to-the-Prophets speech that Sisko gives her at the kiln. Avery Brooks keeps it quiet and subtle, but intense (one of the actor’s best modes), and Visitor’s anguish is etched on her face. Les Landau deserves credit for the blocking here, with Kira on a lower plane (kneeling down to work on the kiln) and Sisko standing over her, then coming down to her level by kneeling next to her when he speaks to her as a friend rather than a CO, then standing back up when he goes back to being her CO.

Sisko also cuts to the heart of Kira’s dilemma: she’s not a freedom fighter anymore, fighting against a government, she is the government. It’d be a difficult transition for anyone, and Kira in particular is struggling mightily with it.

Best of all, Sisko’s speech isn’t the end of it. This is too big a decision, too important a decision, to be solved by speechifying. She still needs a night to think on it (and, to be fair, to take care of the injured Mullibok) and come to a decision. She even lets Mullibok finish the kiln before destroying it and torching his house—more obvious but effective symbolism.

Until it was mentioned in the summary of this episode on Memory Alpha, I didn’t realize how similar this story is to TNG’s “The Ensigns of Command,” down to the destruction of a beloved monument to hard work to make a point at the climax. But this is a more effective story, in part because—while Data’s colonists were ignorant of the depth of the danger—Mullibok knows full well what’s going on, he just doesn’t give a good goddamn; and also because Kira’s destructive rampage at the end doesn’t convince Mullibok. He still doesn’t want to leave and asks Kira to kill him—and then we fade to black before we see the transporter kick in. Did Mullibok go with her? Did he run away from the transporter and leap into the burning cottage? Did he grab Kira’s phaser and turn it on himself?

And here’s the genius of the story: it doesn’t matter. As Sisko said, Mullibok’s fate was sealed the moment the government decided to use Jeraddo as a power source, and besides which, he made his decision forty years earlier. What matters here is Kira’s journey, as she must realize that this time, she’s not the underdog. And she needs to resign herself to this fact, or she can’t move forward. It’s a nice reversal of “Past Prologue,” where this time Kira has to take her own advice to Tahna Los in that episode.


Warp factor rating: 9

Keith R.A. DeCandido reminds everyone that his newest book, the short story collection Tales from Dragon Precinct, is now on sale.


Matt Stoumbaugh
1. LazerWulf
I thought this was a much better episode for Kira than "Battle Lines", and Nana Visitor's acting seemed much more organic in this episode, as well.

Also, It seems like Nog pulled one over on the Great Quark, who essentially pays for the piece of land twice, once with the yamok sauce, and once with the 5 bars of latinum. Presumably, though, he made a killing selling that land to the Bajoran government.
Jeff R.
2. Jeff R.
I can see Ferengi having a poor view of real estate, at least other than on Ferenginar itself. If "Anything you can't carry with you as you're fleeing the system isn't really an asset" isn't a Rule of Acquisition, something very much like it should be.
Christopher Bennett
3. ChristopherLBennett
A good one, but I remember it mainly for the birth of yet another of DS9's countless running gags, as self-sealing stem bolts make their debut (and we never do learn what they're for).

I'm not sure an interstellar civilization would agree that land is the most valuable commodity in the universe. Even if it's a civilization that chooses to live and work on planets, rather than going the megastructure route which is arguably more sensible, they still have a galaxy's worth of planets to choose from, plus countless asteroids which would provide resources in vastly greater abundance than any planet surface (though Trek routinely ignores this). And they don't need farms if they have replicators.

I never cared for the design of the kiln. The hexagonal tiles that the actors affixed to it never looked like they were anything more than a decorative surface layer, so it was hard to buy into the notion that the work of building it was really unfinished.

Mullibok isn't only referenced in Warchild, but makes an appearance in at least one scene, where he seems to have adjusted fairly well to relocation. Although that's an early book and there are some things it doesn't get quite right; it makes a similar mistake to "The Storyteller" in the way it paints the Bajorans as a fairly backward people, and it bizarrely assumes that the station's runabouts are Cardassian-made vessels.
Jeff R.
4. Uncle Mikey
In addition to how good this episode is on its own, there are so many seeds planted here that bear fruit later.

* Jake and Nog navigate the Great Material Continuum together (although that term isn't introduced yet)
* In "Emissary", Sisko's role as CO and chief Federation representative to Bajor (not to mention Emisssary of the Prophets) goes from an unwanted job to a job he's willing to do. Here, it becomes clear that it's a job he's committed to completely.
* Sisko also commits, here, to more than just a senior officer/junior officer role with Kira, but a mentor-student role. Yes, Sisko needs Kira to do her job, but he also needs her to understand why the job needs doing. He needs her to learn how to see that larger picture and swallow the fact that sometimes, that bigger picture has to override the needs of any one person. He wants her not just to do it, but to learn from it. And she does.
* Kira grows up a lot, here, and for the most part, that growth is not just reset.

This is one of the best of the early episodes, but more, it's one of the best of the entire series.
David Levinson
5. DemetriosX
Ah, the self-sealing stem bolts. I think they even eventually find a use for them somewhere.

Another thing this episode does well is not bringing the A and B plots together. When the boys trade for the land, most viewers are probably expecting to find a resolution for Kira's problem there. Look, here is land you can be settled on. It is good. Maybe even the land he owned before the occupation. But they don't take the easy way out, and that is to be commended.

I also think ChristopherLBennett @3 has a good point about the Ferengi attitude to land. If you have to get out of Dodge in a hurry, having all your assets tied up in immovable property is going to mean a huge loss. Add to that the fact that Ferengenar is extremely swampy, so they may not appreciate land that's fairly dry.
Jeff R.
6. Happytoscrap
Best episode from season 1 IMHO.

Kira became Kira in this episode. I loved how she rolled up her sleeves, worked up a sweat and helped finish his project right before his entire property got obliterated.
Matt Hamilton
7. MattHamilton
I can finally say something positive about Nana Visitor. Again, I don't hate the actress. I like her in the role, even if I still wish it were Ro Laren instead of Kira. However, here she actually does do a decent job acting out the whole episode. Mulliobok is magnificent as has been pointed out. With a lot of the series best episodes being kind of dark and kind of against the grain of what Trek had been up until that point, it is nice to realize that this episode can be so good without being dark. It was a learning experience for Kira-things that we must all go through, even into adulthood-and it was just about a government trying to do what is right for it's people after decades of brutality and one man who had seen his fair share of said brutality having made up his mind about his life. I commend his decision about staying and fully understand the hardship that it must have been trying to get him to leave whilst sympathizing with his plight. Overall, a very good episode.

Oh and Jake and Nog, once again, are delightful in thier friendship and simple scheming (much like it will be later in the episode where they are trying to get a present for Sisko). Their friendship is wonderful and wonderfully written/acted.
George Salt
8. GeorgeSalt
Two episodes in a row with a Jake and Nog storyline -- that's not bad. I liked it because it showed that humans and Ferengi can work together. I liked the way Jake and Nog complemented each other's strengths and weaknesses.

@3: I agree that the Ferengi may not look upon land as a valuable commodity. They strike me as financial traders who prefer liquid assets, and land is about as illiquid an asset there is.

As for the Mullibok storyline, I have a vague feeling that I've seen this story somewhere else, and I'm not talking about "The Ensigns of Command." This reminds me of various stories about eminent domain that appeared on TV back in the '60s. I just couldn't shake that feeling, and it kind of ruined the viewing experience for me.

It's a pretty good episode although I wouldn't give it a 9.
Jeff R.
9. Zabeus
Sure, in "hard SF" land might be the most valuable commodity in the universe, but when has that applied to Star Trek? Building artificial structures as big as starbases seems to be cheap and easy, terraforming is possible, and like CLB said: planets, even M-class worlds, are plentiful, and at the same time farmland isn't needed.

Also why was Kira able to order Bashir around when not on DS9? Have they established how the chain of command works yet?

It was nice to see a good episode finally.
Jeff R.
10. TBGH
My only complaint is the two mute farm hands. Not the actors, just the obvious use of a plot device to avoid speaking rolls to save money snapped me out of the story.

Something this show (and this story in particular) do better than any other Trek is show how the boy scouts of Star Fleet learn to work and get along with everyone else.

Cisco Kira, Jake Nog, Cisco Odo, Bashir Garak, even O'Brien Nog in later seasons made the show.
Jeff R.
11. Mark Gritter
Land can hardly be a valuable commodity when the Bajorans are willing to render an entire "M-class" moon uninhabitable for the sake of a power plant. The whole setup seems a criminal waste.
walter tingle
12. wjtingle
"Self-sealing stembolts are, presumably, just like regular stembolts, only they seal themselves."

I didn't realize these were mysterious. I'd assumed they were like a lockbolt, with a sealed stem, like some kinds of blind rivets. The other possibility would be a bicycle stem bolt.
Jeff R.
13. critter42
PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who secretly calls the mute farmhands "Buffy" and "Jody"??
Jeff R.
14. Crusader75
@11 - Yeah. I have not seen the S1 episodes in many years now, and I had to do a double take when the review said they were rendering a habitable world with an apparently functioning biosphere unhabitable and apparently no one objects to that.
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@9: Actually, in hard SF, land would probably be less valuable, at least if it's on a planet, because planets are not a very efficient use of matter. An advanced interstellar society might well be more like the late Iain M. Banks's Culture, building artificial megastructures such as Orbitals which allow vastly more living space than planets ever could. Indeed, it's an ongoing source of annoyance to me that Trek is as planetbound as it is. Like the way they mine stuff on planet surfaces. Just about any resource you'd find on a planet is probably going to exist in vastly greater abundance, and be vastly easier to reach, in the system's asteroids.
Jeff R.
16. Mac McEntire
Many years ago, I got to sit down with a copy of the original script for this episode (I got connections). Upon reading it, I remember thinking how bland the story was. Now, rewatching it, I was caught up in the drama of it all. The credit for this one really goes to the actors, whose performances elevate the main plot to something more than just another Old West “the railroad’s coming through” storyline.

I’ve never been clear where the B-story ended up. Did Jake and Nog get their five bars of GPL, or… do they still own that land?
Chris Nash
17. CNash
@16 Mac - I also wonder whether Nog told Quark the entire story of how he and Jake bought the land. At the end of the day, the Yamok sauce was Quark's, and so the land would be too - Nog would either argue that in telling him to "get rid of" the sauce, Quark surrendered all claim to it, and thus keep all the profit; or else haggle a broker's commission out of him for selling it on his behalf.

Going back to the A-story, you're absolutely right; on paper, I can see how this story wouldn't seem as impressive. I have little else to say that hasn't already been said by Keith or my fellow commenters... it's such a shame that episodes of this calibre are so few and far between in this season.
Jeff R.
18. critter42
Every time I see this episode, I always wonder if Mullibok (and in fact this whole episode) was at least partly inspired by Harry Truman (not the president) on Mount St. Helens. The similarities were striking, even to Harry's quote about "If the mountain goes, I'm going with it."
Jeff R.
19. Sean O'Hara
Why is it the best Kira episodes are those where she butts heads with a recalcitrant man whom she partly sympathizes with? Just off the top of my head there's this episode, Past Prologue, Duet, Second Skin, the Li Nalas arc, and her relationship with Odo later in the series, particularly during the occupation of DS9.
Jeff R.
20. Peter R.
I saw this one only recently, and didn't know that Brian Keith had ever been on Trek. It's a standout performance in any episode of Star Trek--most guest stars, although sometimes excellent, seem more wooden and unnatural. Keith had a relaxed air about him that really carried the character, much more than other performances on Trek .

Mild Spoiler: Regarding the stem bolts, didn't OBrien tell Bashir in the last episode that SOMEONE had to tell Academy cadets about self-sealing stem bolts? I had forgotten his line from this episode.
Jeff R.
21. Peter R.
Sorry--I meant the last episode of season 7. There needs to be an edit button.
Christopher Bennett
22. ChristopherLBennett
@21: If you register with the site, you'll be able to edit posts, as well as getting to bypass the anti-spambot verification thingy.
Jeff R.
23. Patrick Depew
Ah, we finally got to this episode. I've been eagerly awaiting it.

I absolutely love this episode. To me, this is really the episode that demonstrates that DS9 had the ability, rather than the potential, to be a great show.

For as much as I disliked Kira in season 1, this was the episode where I finally turned the corner with her. Instead of being whiny about being treated unfairly or about her past, she finally took some responsibility that matched her current position. Sure, it couldn't have been easy, which was obviously the point. That's why I loved the scene with Sisko. He read her the riot act without having to shout, which definitely made that scene more powerful.

In the end, it was supremely satisfying to see Kira get played so beautifully by Mullibok, and yet still be the one to end the "debate" at the end. She finally owned up to what she had to do, no matter how stubborn, charming and sympathetic Mullibok may have been.

But of course the best part about this episode was Brian Keith's performance as Mullibok. Just everything he does in this episode is fantastic. Keith was such a great actor who never really seemed to be as appreciated as he should have been. I mentioned watching "Centennial" too many times when Cliff DeYoung appeared a few episodes back. Keith was such an integral part of that miniseries as Sheriff Axel Dumire. So I pretty much love anything with him. But he totally owns this role. Considering he died a only a few years after this episode, this sticks out to me as his last really great performance.

What also makes this episode so great is that there are other good moments outside of the main plot. The entire subplot with Jake and Nog is extremely amusing. I've always loved Quark's moment of revelation when Nog makes his offer to him. I also thought the moment where Dax and Kira discuss Morn was amusing.

Overall, I think this is a great episode, and, really, one of the best of the entire series.
Jordan DeLange
24. killtacular
Just to push back in favor of Krad's point re: land.

It doesn't actually matter that much whether land *ought* to be intrinsically all that valuable in this setting. The real question for a trader ought to be whether it is highly valued by enough other people, right? It clearly is, for various reasons, and a sophisticated Ferengi ought to realize that. Now, whether Nog counts as that yet ...
Jeff R.
25. Alright Then
Nog is a young pup. He didn't want land. He wanted the shiny latinum. I'm sure one day he would eventually see the value of owning your own land... or moon like cousin Gaila.
Jordan DeLange
26. killtacular
Right. And how can you get some shiny latinum? By trading something that is valued by others for it! In fact, that is what he ended up doing! :)
alastair chadwin
27. a-j
If you can find any of it, it's well worth checking out Brian Keith in the BBC series Doomwatch which was made in the early '70s. He's excellent in it.
As to the Ferengi not valuing land, I love that. Makes them that little bit more different and highlights the fact that land has no intrinsic value, it's only worth something if you can do something with it (grow crops for example) or if someone else wants it (as happens here). The failure to grasp that was the core reason for the recent financial collapse of the West. It also reminds me of the old joke where a group of academics at a prestigious university are discussing what to do with a large inheritance that has come their way. 'Land has been an excellent investment for the last thousand years,' states the Chair of Moral Philosophy, to which the History Don replies: 'Ah, but the last thousand years have been exceptional.'
Mike Kelmachter
28. MikeKelm
One thing I liked about this episode (Besides Kira's struggle to accept that she couldn't be a rebel forever) was that the A plot and the B Plot shared a theme. All to often, B plots are basically (insert your best Ted Knight voice) "Meanwhile, back on the Enterprise, hilarity ensues when Data's cat has kittens despite being male..." But in this case, both the A Plot and the B Plot were about the value of something. In the A plot, Mullibok had something that had value to him that was unmeasurable. Mullibok and his little farm was far from the highest and best use for the land, but he valued it because it was his home and his measure of freedom. That's contrasted with the B-Plot, where Nog and Jake acquire one thing after another only caring what the market value of the item is. X Cases of yammok sauce is worth Y number of self-sealing stembolts is worth Z acres of land is worth A bars of latinum. In both cases, the owners care about what they have, but in the first case it's despite of what it is worth and in the second case it is only what is worth.

So while the episode did a fantastic job of portraying Kira's inner struggle between being an anti-authority freedom fighter and being an actual authority who has to lay down the law with a comedic b-plot, it also has a very interesting social commentary. Which is more important- something worth a lot of money or something that is valuable only to yourself?
Jack Flynn
29. JackofMidworld
I thought this was a great episode as well (and I also got a kick out out of the fact that self-sealing stembolts seemed to become the go-to 'thing' whenever they needed some type of building or engineering component)
Jeff R.
30. Andy Holman
I'm a little surprised to see so much love for this episode. I guess I'm in the minority here (and, admittedly, it's been a few years since I saw it), but Mullibok just annoyed me way too much to feel any sympathy for his situation, or really get on board with Kira being sympathetic to it. His stories were just way too long and I seem to recall them going nowhere, so I guess I could never figure out why Kira didn't treat him as aggressively as she'd treat any other jerk who's wasting her time.

Kira coming around to the idea that she's no longer fighting the man, but rather she is the man*, is a good touch, though.

*In this context, "the man" means both "the establishment" and "the bomb." Because no matter how you slice it, Kira's the man. ;)

Jordan DeLange
31. killtacular
@27: Oh also

"and highlights the fact that land has no intrinsic value, it's only
worth something if you can do something with it (grow crops for example)
or if someone else wants it (as happens here)."

So, this is like literally true for absolutely anything. But the academics joke was funny (says the philosopher) :).
Jeff R.
32. RobinM
This is one of my favorite episodes of DS9. Brian Keith does curmudgeon really well even with out "Buffy,Jody or McKormick". I also enjoyed the fact that Keira realized that she no longer is a rebel but The Man. The Jake and Nog story was also fun especially when Quark realized exactly who he is dealing with for that land.
alastair chadwin
33. a-j
You're not alone. I am not a real fan of the A story because I do not find Brian Keith's character sympathetic, though beautifully acted, just somewhat irritating.
Absolutely. As someone who buys and sells (second hand books) I am fully aware that anything is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it at the moment it is up for sale. I like the B story in this episode because it neatly illustrates that basic economic truth.
Rob Rater
34. Quasarmodo
30 & 33 I concur. I thought the old guy was extremely annoying. If I was Kira, in the midst of that first 10+ minute long spiel about nothing, the phaser would've come on and building gettin' torched right then and there!
Chris Nash
35. CNash
Well, firstly Kira has a soft spot for father-figures - we'll see this again with different guest characters throughout the series. She also respects people who pulled themselves up out of the ashes of the Occupation and made a life for themselves, hence why she's reluctant to just transport him out; she wants to convince him that his life will still have meaning away from his cottage.
Joseph Newton
36. crzydroid
Count me with the minority, though I wouldn't say it was a bad episode.

I didn't care for the character of Mullibok all that much. I totally get the idea of not wanting to leave one's home, not being consulted about the mining project beforehand and being forced to leave, and sympathizing with the underdog, etc. But the character really just seemed selfish, conceited, and as you point out, manipulative to me. It's all about ME ME ME!!! And maybe you could say that of course a person is thinking of a person's self when being forced to leave a home--but this guy came off as someone who only ever cared about himself. I liked the rhetorical trap at the end though.

I like the Jake/Nog stuff in all of these, and I think here I even like the B-plot a little better than the A-plot, since it seems like we've seen this before. But the Sisko speech and Visitor's acting in that scene add a nice touch to that storyline, and I think is the thing that elevates the episode to "good" for me. Though I certainly wouldn't call it one of the best of the series. This is hardly a "Measure of a Man" or "Lower Decks" to compare to TNG.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
37. Lisamarie
This is a little embarassing to admit, but I thought the Ferengi at the beginning (who bought the yammok sauce) was Rom. Which added this entire layer to the story of Nog hearing his father get reamed out, and then wanting to prove himself, heh. But even so, I really enjoyed the storyline and was pleasantly surprised to see that it (presumably) worked out for them. I was expecting them to end up with nothing, or end up with the yammok sauce again, something like that. It (and the previous episode) was a nice way of showcasing the Ferengi attributes in a more positive way.

I actually did sympathize with the old man quite a bit. Yes, he was being selfish in that he was putting his own comfort/desires over something that could benefit so many people. But at the same time, I still feel he was mostly in the right, especially as we know that there IS a way to get the power without destroying the moon, it will just take a bit longer - I didn't get the impression this was a life threatening delay, just an annoying one. Not to mention the other people who were displaced without really being asked.

It also really irritated me when they destroyed the kiln and home - even though I completely understand the symbolism behind it and the rhetorical conflict - if for no other reason that, if it were me, I'd want my last memories of the home to be clean and in order, even if I knew it was going to get destroyed anyway. But I'm a big neat freak.
Christopher Bennett
38. ChristopherLBennett
I'm not sure I agree about Mullibok being "selfish." It might seem that way to us, but keep in mind that he grew up in a world where his people were routinely denied the right to self-determination, forced to do what they were told by the Cardassians, even punished or killed for daring to assert their own wishes. In that context, refusing to abandon one's own personal wishes and bow to others' demands is less petty selfishness and more of a principled stand for individual rights. He wasn't just saying "I don't care about anyone's wishes but my own," he was saying, "Hey, you guys don't have the right to trample over other people who get in your way." Even if converting the moon was in the best interests of the Bajoran people as a whole, it was still worth reminding them that individuals matter.
alastair chadwin
39. a-j
That's what irritates me about the A-story. I want to sympathise with Mullibok but the script won't let me not least because it fails, to me anyway, to make it clear that his objections are anything other than a smug contrariness.
Christopher Bennett
40. ChristopherLBennett
@39: That doesn't undermine it for me, though. As they say, freedom isn't just about defending those points of view that we like, but those we dislike as well. Even curmudgeons and self-centered jerks have fundamental rights, and we don't get to disregard their rights just because we don't find them likeable.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
41. Lisamarie
@38/40 - thanks, that's what I was trying to articulate, but as usual you have put it much better. Even though from a strictly utilitarian point of view he's putting himself over the many, I tend not to view things from a strictly utilitarian view, so this actually left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth overall, regarding Kira and the Bajoran government. Also, I didn't even find him as objectionable as others seem to have. The only thing that really irritated me about him was his inistence on commenting on Kira's appearance, etc in what I felt was a rather patronizing way - but that might have been part of the act.
Dante Hopkins
42. DanteHopkins
Just a great story, one that cemented my viewership of DS9. I love when stories force you to think. Kira had to make a very painful journey that Sisko is instrumental in helping her complete, and I really appreciated the growing friendship between the two. The depth of storytelling on DS9 was and is like no other Trek series.
Joseph Newton
43. crzydroid
@40: It wasn't really the fact that he wanted to keep his home that made me say he seemed selfish. I understand that part of it. It was just more the way he came off through all of his various interactions with Kira and stories. And of course you're right, that doesn't impact his rights and whether he should've been forced off, etc. I was just trying to convey that it impacted my enjoyment of the episode. I also agree with Lisamarie @41 though that they should've taken the other route for the power, even if it would be one more year.
Heather Dunham
45. tankgirl73
Speaking from the perspective of someone who considers DS9 her favourite Trek but who has, in fact, really only seen most of the episodes just the once in their original broadcast and is reliving through these recaps strictly by 20-year-old memory... So far, I've remembered at least the gist of most of the first season episodes, and remembered some of them quite clearly indeed.

But this one? Wasn't ringing any bells at all. Nothing. Not a clue, I might never have seen it at all. Until Jake and Nog and the self-sealing stembolts. Instantly upon reading those words, I remembered... "oh, they went through a long chain of trading up for different random things, and it was all very amusing!"

But still no recollection at all of the A-plot. Nothing. Interesting.
Jeff R.
46. Michael Pope
I really enjoy watching Brian Keith act. It's very sad that only a few years after this episode, he ended up turning that phaser on himself, anyway.

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