Tue
Aug 13 2013 4:10pm
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “Sanctuary”

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sanctuary“Sanctuary”
Written by Gabe Essoe & Kelly Miles and Frederick Rappaport
Directed by Les Landau
Season 2, Episode 10
Production episode 40512-430
Original air date: November 28, 1993
Stardate: 47391.2

Station log: Kira is behind in her paperwork because she’s been spending the last two days arguing with Minister Rozhan about an irrigation project. She then gets static from Quark about a Bajoran musician named Varani that she talked him into hiring, and then gets static from Varani who has asked her to convince the chamber of ministers to rebuild a concert hall.

A badly damaged ship comes through the wormhole. O’Brien beams the four inhabitants on board before their ship can completely fail. Unfortunately, the universal translator is struggling with the language they speak, so nobody can understand them, nor can they understand the crew. Kira, Sisko, and Odo escort them to the infirmary slowly but surely, and Bashir treats them. The woman who is in charge of the foursome seems to respond better to Kira than anyone else (she even goes so far as to insist that Kira treat them rather than Bashir). Sisko hits on the notion of sharing food, and shortly after that, the translator finally kicks in.

The woman is named Haneek, and she is a Skrreean, as are the other three, who are her males (the Skrreeans are a female-dominated society, as men are too emotional to rule). They’re one of many refugee ships that are on the other side of the wormhole—three million Skrreeans are in need of rescue. She explains that they believe the wormhole to be the Eye of the Universe which will lead them to Kentanna, their promised land: a planet of sorrow where the Skrreeans will sow the seeds of peace.

The Skrreeans are refugees from the T-Rogorans, who conquered them eight centuries ago; they escaped when the T-Rogorans were themselves conquered.

More refugees are found in the Gamma Quadrant, and Kira asks Haneek to welcome them. Hundreds of Skrreeans pour onto the Promande. For Odo, it’s a security nightmare, but Sisko is thrilled to see so many people enjoying their first taste of freedom. Nog gets into trouble when he sprays Tumak, one of Haneek’s males, with a foul-smelling vapor, but Quark can’t blame him because the Skrreeans are disruptive and messing with his business—and leaving little flakes of skin all over his bar. To make matters worse, Tumak later starts a fight with Nog and Jake on the Promenade.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sanctuary

Haneek is unanimously voted the new leader of the Skrreeans by the elder women present, as she’s the one who found the Eye of the Universe. Haneek is not happy about this, as she doesn’t want the responsibility, though Varani does give her a recording of a performance he gave as a younger man, for which she’s grateful. She also thinks that Kentanna is, in fact, Bajor. It certainly fits the criteria of a planet of sorrow. Dax has found a Class-M planet for them called Draylon II, but they would prefer to settle on Bajor.

Minister Rozhan and Vedek Sorad come on the station to give their decision regarding the Skrreeans’ request to settle on Bajor. The petition is refused, as Bajor simply cannot handle so many new immigrants to their world. Haneek insists that they can take over the northwest peninsula and make it arable again—the Cardassians devastated that region—but the chamber of ministers and the vedek assembly can’t take the chance. If they fail, Bajor will have to help them, and they don’t have the resources to do so properly.

Jake tries to make peace with Tumak, and is only partially successful, while Kira tries the same with Haneek, and isn’t remotely successful, as Haneek feels that Kira has betrayed her.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sanctuary

Tumak has stolen a ship and headed for Bajor. It’s still under repair, but they refuse to even take O’Brien’s call telling them that the ship is in danger of exploding. Haneek tries to convince him to turn his engines off, but he won’t listen. Two Bajoran interceptors move to stop Tumak, but Tumak fires on them, which results in his own ship being destroyed. Haneek is devastated, as is everyone else.

Haneek still believes Bajor was the right place for the Skrreeans to go, that they could have helped each other, because their farming skills could very well have made Bajor better. But she also now realizes that Bajor is not Kentanna. The Skrreeans go off to Draylon II.

Can’t we just reverse the polarity? Apparently the universal translators are ALL AROUND YOU and magically turn your speech into something everyone can understand. This is an instance where the explanation actually is more ridiculous than the usual lack of explanation....

The Sisko is of Bajor: Sisko has no trouble deferring to Kira as the main spokesperson to the Skrreeans, and indeed encourages it, as it makes his job easier. Unsurprisingly for the son of a chef, he hits on the notion of sharing food as an ice-breaker.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira is having a very bad day, being harassed by the chamber of ministers, Quark, and Varani before the Skrreeans arrive. She does an excellent job of bonding with Haneek even before they can understand each other, and the bond they form is the spine of the episode.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sanctuary

Rules of Acquisition: When Jake tells Nog that Mardah is studying entomology, Nog immediately assumes that she is studying to be a chef.

Victory is life: The people who conquered the Skrreeans were in turn conquered by one of the member races of the Dominion, who have now been mentioned twice as a power in the Gamma Quadrant. It’s unclear whether or not Quark shared what (little) he learned about the Dominion in “Rules of Acquisition,” so it’s possible that Haneek’s mention of them is the first one any of the senior staff have heard.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Jake has gone on a date with a dabo girl named Mardah, though he only told his father that it was a tutoring session (which it technically was, as Jake is helping Mardah with her study of entomology) and neglected to mention the fact that she’s a dabo girl.

Keep your ears open: “It’s hard to keep a secret in Ops, especially when you’ve been shouting at a monitor for the past two days.”

“Thought I kept it down to an angry whisper.”

“Let’s just say your voice carries.”

Sisko and Kira on her ongoing arguments with the provisional government.

Welcome aboard: Lots of fun guests in this one. Deborah May shines as Haneek (well, actually she flakes a bit...) We also get the wife of Armin Shimerman, Kitty Swink, playing Minister Rozahn (she’ll be back as a Vorta in “Tacking Into the Wind”), and the son of Walter Koenig, Andrew Koenig, as Tumak. Old friend William Schallert (last seen on Trek as the insufferable Nilz Baris in “The Trouble with Tribbles,” and who’ll be back in “Trials and Tribble-ations” in that role via footage) appears as the musician Varani. Aron Eisenberg is back as Nog, Betty McGuire plays Vanya, and Robert Curtis-Brown is Vedek Sorad.

But this week’s Robert Knepper moment is Michael Durrell—best known as Robert Maxwell in the miniseries V and V: The Final Battle, as well as the pilot episode of V: The Series—who shows up as a Bajoran general.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sanctuary

Trivial matters: The Skrreeans are not seen or mentioned again onscreen, though they are name-checked in both the DS9 novel Cathedral by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin and the TNG novel Losing the Peace by William Leisner.

Speaking of Cathedral, Varani also appears in that novel, as he is tapped to play the music for Bajor’s entry ceremony into the Federation.

Speaking of Varani, the song he plays early in the episode is a variation on the theme music for DS9.

Mardah will be mentioned again in “Playing God” this season. We’ll finally see her next season in “The Abandoned,” where she’ll be played by Jill Sayre.

The original draft of the script had the Bajorans taking the Skrreeans as refugees. Michael Piller felt (rightly) that the opposite ending would carry more resonance.

Walk with the Prophets: “This isn’t over yet, big-ears!” This episode manages the incredibly neat trick of being well written, well acted, generally well put together, with some excellent scenes, and yet which feels like less than the sum of its parts.

The Skrreeans are a decent little alien culture, with a nice makeup design of yucky flaky skin (a welcome change from the usual default of putting bumpy foreheads on them and hoping for the best; Michael Westmore cites this as one of his favorite alien makeup designs), and the matriarchal society is handled much better here than in TNG’s execrable “Angel One.” The friendship between Haneek and Kira develops very nicely. In particular, one bit is superb: before the translator has kicked in, Haneek points out a dress on the Promenade. Later, Kira gives the dress to her as a gift—but it turns out that what Haneek was saying was how very hideous the dress was. Deborah May expertly plays Haneek as an ordinary person thrust into an extraordinary role.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: Sanctuary

I think, ultimately, my biggest problem is that the ending claims to be an unhappy downbeat ending—but it only is insofar as the friendship between Haneek and Kira is sundered, and that’s on Haneek’s back entirely because she’s being an unreasonable twit. Haneek has focused on Bajor as the place they’re destined to be in because it happens to match the structure of a prophecy, but the arguments put forth by Minister Rozhan, by Vedek Sorad, and by Kira herself are all one hundred percent reasonable. (Hell, if Kira actually agrees with the chamber of ministers, they probably are right...)

Interpretation of religious dogma is a poor criterion to use in figuring out where to spend the rest of your life. What really sours the episode for me is Haneek accusing Kira of betraying their friendship, which is utterly unreasonable and costs the character all the sympathy she’d spent the episode building up.

Draylor II is a better choice for the Skrreeans. The fact that Haneek is too stubborn and too entrenched in her prophecy to see the reality of that doesn’t make her sympathetic to my eyes in the least.

There’s plenty to like in this episode, from Jake and Nog’s talk about Mardah (which will continue to recur) to the delightful character of Varani (well played by veteran William Schallert) to the aforementioned bit with the dress, but it’s not enough to entirely salvage the episode.

 

Warp factor rating: 5


Keith R.A. DeCandido’s latest book is Ragnarok and Roll: Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet, a collection of urban fantasy short stories taking place in Key West, Florida. One of the stories is the three-part “Cayo Hueso,” all three parts of which will be available for 99 cents. Part 1 is live now, with Parts 2 and 3 to come over the course of the next two weeks. Look for more on the collection on Tor.com in the coming days.

45 comments
TBonz
1. TBonz
I couldn't stand this one. Haneek was just unlikeable by her actions, and the flaky skin was just gross.
TBonz
2. Uncle Mikey
This is an instance where the explanation actually is more ridiculous than the usual lack of explanation....
This is one area where I have consistently backed TOS as superior to ALL the newer series. TOS was largely content not to try to explain how things worked, or at the very least to keep those explanations fairly close to the surface. How the UT worked was never even scratched -- just that there was such a thing.

To my way of thinking that actually made TOS better science fiction. Science fiction that doesn't try to explain the details behind a magical-seeming tech is Clarke's Law in action. Science fiction that makes up a completely nonsensical explanation is...well, just nonsense!
TBonz
3. bookworm1398
I think the issue was not interpretation of the prophecy but the question: are immigrants a burden on the society or do they contribute to the economy? The characters involved answered the question as expected. And from this perspective, Haneek was right, Kira did betray her by thinking/ believing that her people would be a drain on Bajor, not a resource for Bajor.
Alan Courchene
4. Majicou
@2: Of course, if Star Trek weren't so dead-set against any form of transhumanism (or trans-insert-species-here-ism), it might be spoiled for choice with more plausible explanations. Implanted computers that can translate right into your auditory centers in real time? Sure, why not? But cybernetic implants are icky and scary, unless you're the Choblik. Then again, there's still the fact that most of the time, unlike in this episode, the UT kicks in instantly with no apparent time needed to get a sample of previously unknown languages.
Christopher Bennett
5. ChristopherLBennett
I liked episodes that hinted at the process of needing to learn a new language, or even just giving the UT time to process it rather than instantly kicking in. That's one thing I liked about Enterprise, which acknowledged that Hoshi needed time to sort out alien languages. I think we heard more (non-Klingon) alien speech in ENT than in all the prior Trek series put together.

Or rather, I should say I liked that part of the episode. The episode as a whole didn't really work for me.

Although the "UT failure" bit here is interesting mainly from a story-structure perspective; the only reason it happened was because the reveal of what the Skreeans were looking for needed to be delayed until the end of the act.

Keith, I don't think I agree with your assessment. Both the Bajorans and the Skreeans could've benefitted from working together, combining their strengths. The Bajorans were, frankly, hypocritical -- given how many of their own people have been refugees in need of assistance from the Federation and others, their lack of consideration and respect for other refugees came off as contemptibly selfish. I can't say it's surprising -- human populations in similar situations have often reacted the same way -- but that doesn't make it any less petty and territorial.
Raymond Seavey
6. RaySea
@4: In season four's "Little Green Men" showed Ferengi UTs that had a reset button inside the ear, so they, at least, did seem to use implants of some kind.
Pirmin Schanne
7. Torvald Nom
@4: Isn't that what Ferengi seem to have in 'Little Green Men'?
TBonz
8. Zabeus
More exciting visitors from the Gamma quadrant!(/sarcasm)

As for the universal translator, isn't that the canon explanation that we've had for years? Or did the idea originally come from this episode? Saying "the computer does it" isn't exactly magic. Even if we assume everyone has implants (Little Green Men), there's no reason that they couldn't all be linked to the station's computer. Also, no silly technobabble was provided by this episode so I don't think it violates @2's "completely nonsensical explanation" rule.

@5, It could be territorial (nationalistic?) or it could be completely reasonable. We don't have all the data that the Bajoran government used in their "projections". 300million is a lot of people. It depends on how they were actually to behave on landing, and what resources are available. (though this is hard to believe knowing Star Trek's economics - that they've mostly solved the scarcity problem)
The translation issue is one of the things I liked about Ent too.
Christopher Bennett
9. ChristopherLBennett
@8: I think Keith's issue is with how the UT is presented as something omnipresent throughout the station rather that built into the communicators/combadges of individual personnel. But that makes sense to me in the context of a space station, where you'd have civilians from all over coming through. Even today, we have a prototype technology that can use specially calculated interference patterns to focus a sound into a person's ear from meters away (of course, it's being used for advertising), so it's plausible that the stations' comm system could do the same with translations, beaming them into individual listeners' ears without being heard by others around them.

And the problem with the Bajorans' attitude toward the Skreeans is that the assumed the Skreeans would only be a drain on Bajor's resources, ignoring the possibility that they could've been a boon by using their agricultural skills to redevelop a ruined territory. The Skreeans didn't want handouts, they wanted to work and contribute, to earn their place in Bajoran society. But the Bajorans basically acted like the far right in America today, making the kneejerk assumption that all immigrants are lazy freeloaders who'd hurt the economy rather than contributing to it.
TBonz
10. Zabeus
"All immigrants" Yes that's quite a generalization. I don't think I've heard anyone of consequence on the "far right" of America say that for a while (Europe's nationalists maybe), nor did Bajor seem to have that polarized a position. Like people on Earth today, some of that tribal mentality must exist, but was that really part of the government's decision? That was certainly Haneek's interpretation, with her swipe about the Cardassians and fear.
(They probably did worry about what might happen in the worst case scenario if a substantial percent of 300 million were lazy freeloaders, and the weather turned for the worse, and that's a reasonable concern - we know nothing about the Skreeans except what they tell us.)
Christopher Bennett
11. ChristopherLBennett
@10: But it's hypocritical for the Bajorans, so many of whom are former refugees themselves, to default to the expectation that the majority of the Skreean refugees would fit a negative stereotype of refugees. It's the fundamental mistake that drives a lot of nationalism and intolerance, the assumption that while your own people would react to hardship with courage and determination, a different people would lack the virtue or fortitude to react the same way. It may sound "reasonable" to the people making the argument, but reason is only as sound as the assumptions that go into it. At its core, it's simple tribalism and xenophobia. Again, hardly surprising to see in the Bajorans, who have plenty of impetus to be mistrustful of aliens, but hardly an admirable or fair position.
TBonz
12. hokie
This episode ticked me off because it painted the Bajorans as bad guys. I'm not the biggest fan of the Bajorans, but that is simply not fair.

The Bajorans didn't owe these people anything. Zip. Nada. They were already being gracious in helping them on DS9 (a Bajoran station, remember?). Even had Bajor been a paradise, they would have had every right to deny letting 3 million people settle on their world. No explanation even needed.

But on top of that, even IF the Skrrean's could have reworked the peninsula, it doesn't change the fact that it's land that maybe the Bajorans knew they should not give up, even if it was useless at the time. They still had a long road of restoration to endure. They had to think long-term.

Then there was the very real risk of the Skrrean's failing. The Bajorans would have felt responsible for them. The resources that would have taken would have been immense. It would have been an enormous risk. The government's job is to look to its own, first.
TBonz
13. Crusader75
@10 It does not even have to be that the Skrreans are lazy, they just have to be less competent at agriculture than they claim for them to be an issue for the Bajorans. There's also the fact that the Bajoran government is being sasked to approve their planet being colonized by an entire civilization, after their experience with the Cardassians that might not be very appealing.
Keith DeCandido
14. krad
Quoth Christopher: "And the problem with the Bajorans' attitude toward the Skreeans is that the assumed the Skreeans would only be a drain on Bajor's resources, ignoring the possibility that they could've been a boon by using their agricultural skills to redevelop a ruined territory. The Skreeans didn't want handouts, they wanted to work and contribute, to earn their place in Bajoran society. But the Bajorans basically acted like the far right in America today, making the kneejerk assumption that all immigrants are lazy freeloaders who'd hurt the economy rather than contributing to it."

This paragraph is totally false. I'm sorry, Christopher, but the Bajorans didn't assume anything, but they were concerned that the Skrreeans might become a drain on their society, and if that worst-case scenario happened, Bajor would be well and truly screwed. Haneek was speaking in optimistic and hopeful terms about their surviving on their own, but the minister and vedek were talking the practical hard reality.

Also, it's all well and good for them to say they're good farmers, but how do the Bajorans know this? Their claims to be able to reclaim the northwestern peninsula were based on no kind of evidence that we saw.

Bajor is a weakened, devastated planet that is recovering from a brutal, strip-mining-filled occupation that ruined their world. They weren't a good fit for immigration. OTOH, the Federation is -- and the Federation stepped in immediately with a perfect world for them to move to, one which would provide them with Federation support and Federation resources. The only level on which Bajor made more sense than Draylon II was because it happened to fulfill a prophecy, which is, in the opinion of this agnostic, a dumbshit basis for an emigration policy. It's like foregoing traveling to Florida because you'd rather go to Haiti right after they overthrew Duvalier......

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Christopher Bennett
15. ChristopherLBennett
@14: Those are fair points. I guess when you put it that way, Draylon II made more sense. Still, it doesn't change my belief that the Bajorans' motives were not entirely rational and objective.

As for a people following a religious belief, what matters isn't whether it's true, but whether they have the right to act according to their convictions. At this point in the series, it wasn't that much clearer that the Bajorans' belief in the Prophets was true. We knew the wormhole aliens existed, but the idea that they took on a godlike, protective role toward the Bajorans hadn't yet been confirmed as anything more than the Bajorans' belief. So what made the Skreeans any less justified in following their beliefs than the Bajorans were?

For that matter, how do we know (or at least, how could we have known at this point in the series) that the Skreeans hadn't been sent an Orb of their own, that this hadn't been part of the Prophets' plan all along? It's harder to be dismissive of alien religions and prophecies in a fictional universe so full of godlike superraces and time travellers.
TBonz
16. Shalom Owen
I don't really agree that the end of the friendship was "all on Haneek". And honestly, I think she's got a point about the Bajorans reacting from fear, from their own wounds inflicted by Cardassia.

The point of the ending, what makes it a bit sour, is that really both sides have valid points.

Bajor is right to fear that the Skrreeans MIGHT prove a drain, because if they did, then yes, Bajor would be screwed. They're absolutely right to fear that. And it's their planet and they absolutely have the right to say "our planet, not your planet, we don't want to share".

But where Haneek has a point is - the Bajorans don't say that. They hem and haw about potential drain, potential disaster that in truth might well never happen, and they act from that position rather than at any point checking the Skrreean claims. (Say, offering a moon, or a small chunk of territory as a test, or some kind of test to see just how much agricultural knowledge the Skrreeans do have.) The Bajorans wanted to say no. And they didn't want to say it bluntly, so they pulled out a worst case scenario. Haneek is right to say that yes, that does very much look like the Bajorans are talking from a position of psychological damage and fear.

But, and this is where it balances out, that doesn't actually mean the Bajorans are wrong to fear that worst case scenario. They've got a lot to deal with (which we get to see a lot of this season) and trying to juggle Skrreeans too? Haneek is right to say they're talking from a position of damage and fear. They're damaged and afraid. And that's an entirely justified place for the Bajorans to be at, given everything they've been through and everything they're currently going through. There's a degree of arrogance for the Skrreeans to just assume they can help make things better that the Bajorans are well within their rights to reject as being far too optimistic. A lot of the social psychological damage that Bajor suffers, it has to heal in its own way. (And honestly, given the power the Circle had just recently, it's not unreasonable for a lot of the ministers to have back-of-brain worries that a few million Skrreeans would cause planetwide war.) The Bajorans are just not ready to be as open and as giving as they'd probably like to be.

So...really it's not 'all on Haneek', anymore than it's all on Kira or the Bajorans. Had the Skrreeans come later on - say, a decade later, or two decades - they might well have been welcomed with open arms, or at least turned away with greater honesty. That they weren't...I don't honestly think that's the fault of either side.
Charles Olney
17. CharlesO
A major theme with this season is episodes that raise potentially interesting questions but dash those questions on the altar of plot movement.

There is a genuinely difficult puzzle to untangle with the question of immigration - particularly when it's the mass immigration of a refugee group. On the whole, everything we know about economics says that immigration improves the quality of life for most people. But it's not a certain thing - and even if it's generally good it certainly does pose some real problems too. What's more, it's INCREDIBLY common for those generalized benefits of immigration to be invisible to the citizens of the host nation.

Given this, there's every chance for putting together a complex episode that deals with these issues. However, since this episode isn't really about immigration - but instead is about Kira's growing (and then dashed) friendship with Haneek - none of it gets done. We're just asked to accept as given that the Bajorans are behaving irrationally, because that's what the larger story demands.

As for the translator, the thing that particularly irritated me is that they don't SHOW us anything that suggests the difficult linguistic structure that supposedly tripped up the computer. There is absolutely nothing about this species that indicates a strange language except that we can't understand them for the first 5-10 minutes. I am not the biggest fan of Darmok, but at least that's an episode which shows us language barriers being (slowly and with difficulty) overcome. This episode: not so much.
TBonz
18. Megaduck
I have to sympathize more with the Bajorans here.

Regardless of agriculture or resources, they have a completely unknown alien civilization, with a completely different culture, that’s trying to claim part of their planet on religious grounds. I saw this as an allegory to a similar situation that happened here on earth and saw a disaster in the making. Especially since Haneek was calling Bajor the planet of sorrow and insisting that they could ‘save it’. That came across more as religious cultural imperialism to me.

I thought that the Draylon IIsituation was a much better fit and showed that both Bajor and the Federation were being responsible about this. Helping the refugees but not acceding to unreasonable demands.
Tim May
19. ngogam
My personal favoured interpretation of the universal translator is that it works through communicators etc., and the fact that characters appear to be speaking English is merely a dramatic convention. (I.e. on the "real" station the process is somewhat less transparent than it appears on the show. A corollary of this is that the characters ought to be able to tell whether they're listening to a translation, even though the viewers can't; there are instances which contradict this, but it's difficult to imagine any explanation for e.g. characters beaming down to a planet and being able to pass themselves off as natives when using the UT.)
Kit Case
20. wiredog
The fact that Haneek is too stubborn and too entrenched in her prophecy to see the reality

Sounds like half the Bajorans we meet over the years...
Christopher Bennett
21. ChristopherLBennett
@16: Very good analysis. I can't add anything to that.

@17: I'm willing to accept that the Skreean language isn't intrinsically beyond what a Starfleet-grade UT could successfully convert to English, but that the Cardassian UT software built into the station isn't quite up to the same level of sophistication so it ran into a block this time. Presumably O'Brien managed to upgrade the UT software after this so such glitches wouldn't happen again.
TBonz
22. Mac McEntire
Whether the Bajorans were right or wrong in their decision, I think the one thing we can all agree on is that Jake's green and blue jump suit is horrendous.
Benji Cat
23. benjicat
@22 Nog's rainbow outfit was stylin' though!
Charles Foster
24. FossMaNo1
The part of this episode I absolutely loved was Quark's standing up for Nog against Tumak. The sharp teeth and the slight growl Quark issues were rather intimidating (as was his posture). Too bad we don't see more of this...granted, thje typical Ferengi whining when attacked is amusing, but it gets old. Quark had just a hint of "I will flay you alive" attitude going there and I liked it!
Christopher Bennett
25. ChristopherLBennett
@24: Oh yes, that's right -- that was probably my favorite moment of this episode (though it had little competition). That's one thing I really liked about Quark -- that for all his impatience and insults toward Rom and Nog, at heart he really cared for his family.
Matt Hamilton
26. MattHamilton
I agree with both KRAD and CLB in that the Skreean's basing all of their motives for wanting to be on Bajor on a prophecy is silly and not at all a good life choice. However, the Bajorans, a society of refugees for the most part as well as a people who often site prophecy as a life course or something that should be followed as deemed by the Prophets, were pretty hypocritical, in my opinion. And to further the Universal Translator argument, I'm actually completely fine with the UT being all over the place. It's been established, I believe, that it's in the ear, in more episodes than just Little Green Men. But with the way our technology is progressing now, I don't see why they wouldn't have it anywhere and everywhere, up to and including inside of us. Our microchips have only been getting smaller and plenty of scientists posit that soon we'll have them everywhere because they'll be so small and so cheap to produce. They will be free floating in the air and in our clothes and inside of us, repairing cells and things of that nature. Couple that with something like the Google Glasses which, if you think about it could soon be giving us subtitles right in our eye when someone with a different languange than yours is speaking to you. Something like an early text version of the Universal Translator. I don't see why tiny computers floating around and/or inside of us would not translate other languages for us in the 24th century.
Christopher Bennett
27. ChristopherLBennett
@26: "I agree with both KRAD and CLB in that the Skreean's basing all of their motives for wanting to be on Bajor on a prophecy is silly and not at all a good life choice."

I never said that. I said just the opposite -- that people have the right to their own religious beliefs even if we don't agree with them, and that in the Trek universe, with all its godlike, time-bending aliens, it's unwise to write off all prophecies as invalid.

And yes, the Bajorans did show some signs of religious intolerance here. "Our Prophets are real but yours are obviously imaginary."
Keith DeCandido
28. krad
One other factor here that the Bajoran minister didn't point out is that their government still calls itself "provisional" after more than a year, and they just came THIS CLOSE to a coup d'etat not that long ago. This is not a stable government, and not one that is in a position to make long-term commitments to anything or anyone because they're not in a position to promise that they'll still be in power a year from now.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Dante Hopkins
29. DanteHopkins
I have to agree with Keith on this one. Bajor just wasn't in a position to absorb 3 million people, even if they wanted to, at this point. The ministers and vedeks probably liked the idea of someone reclamining that peninsula, but in practical terms the risks of that kind of roll of the dice was just too high, for everyone on Bajor. If something did go wrong, if the Skrrea couldn't rebuild the peninsula, Bajor would have to help them. I don't see Bajor's decision as based on xenophobia or fear (though given what Bajor went through for 60 years with the Cardassians, such feelings wouldn't be unexpected). The Chamber of Ministers and Vedek Assembly had to decide based on unfortunate and sad realities of the current state of Bajor.

I also agree that, from an agnostic standpoint myself, making a decision as to where to resettle 3 million based on religious dogma is unpractical. We just don't know if the Skrrea had been contacted by the wormhole aliens. If they had, the wormhole aliens surely would have made this known to Kira or to Bajor through someone (most likely Kira, though the Prophets do work in mysterious ways). The message from them would have been clear.

Finally the sad ending of the friendship between Kira and Haneek was onthe back of Haneek. Kira wanted to look out for the best interests of Bajor and the Skrrea, but Haneek was too wrapped up in religious dogma to look at the cold realities of what Haneek wanted. Its unfortunate she parted with Kira on those terms.
Christopher Bennett
30. ChristopherLBennett
@29: Since when have prophecies from the gods ever been clear? That's just not the way it works. Generally the implicit idea is that prophecies are tests -- we have to be smart enough to figure out what they're telling us. The gods help those who help themselves; they may point us in the right direction, but we have to do the work of deciphering their clues, and thereby earn the desired outcome. If the gods just hand us all the answers on a silver platter, then that leaves us dependent and weak.

Or, in this case, the wormhole aliens' "prophecies" are arcane because they're a profoundly different order of intelligence and the capacity for mutual understanding is limited. Given all the conceptual and perceptual filters that the information would have to pass through, one shouldn't expect it to be presented with crystal clarity in humanoid terms.
TBonz
31. bookworm1398
Just wondering, this is not the only episode that talks about farming on Bajor, how does that fit techonologically? Doesn't food come from replicators?
Christopher Bennett
32. ChristopherLBennett
@31: Replicators use a lot of power, and need repairs if they break down. Farming is probably a simpler, more reliable food source for a region that lacks basic infrastructure. I'm sure the Federation would provide as many replicators as it could, but farming would still be needed too, at least in the early years.
TBonz
33. Zabeus
@31, 32
In TNG the power used by replicators never seemed significant until it was needed as a plot point. Why not build factories to mass produce replicators and portable fusion generators to power them? I wonder if the Federation intentionally holds back on tech given to non-members.
In DS9 you'll hear about all sorts of things that can't be replicated for some reason. People also seem to prefer natural food to replicated food. Maybe they rarely complained on TNG because that's just what Starfleet officers on continuing missions expect. Could be the Replimat's dirty little secret is that it tastes awful. (relatively)
TBonz
34. Randy McDonald
There are various real-world analogues to Bajor, countries with distinctive populations with histories of political independence once occupied by aggressive colonizers but recently freed. The Baltic States and Korea are frequently mentioned in the various Wikis; I'd nominate Algeria and East Timor as a candidates.

In all of these countries, including ones like the Baltic States which transitioned fairly rapidly to independence, the desire to control migration flows into the territory in question popped up very early on. The scale of Cardassian migration to Bajor seems to have been orders of magnitude less than that of Soviet-era migration to the Baltic States--Bajor's population seems to number in the billions and I don't get a sense of Cardassian civilian inflows being _that_ substantial--but I expect that it was a hot-button ticket on Bajor.

I don't think that a Bajor just two years out of the Occupation was in any shape to accommodate a large immigration of refugees with no apparent prior connection to Bajor or Bajorans. Bajor at that time just wasn't stable enough to handle such an inflow, especially if--as was quite possible--things went wrong, or even merely complicated.
Bajor two _decades_ after the occupation would have been in a much
better position to resettle the Skreeans on the homeworld, economically, politically, and psychologically.

I still feel sympathetic to Haneek and her position, mind. The Bajorans have absolutely no evidence to back up the Skreeans' claims that they could rehabilitate that blighted peninsula with their superior agricultural skills, but there's no reason to believe that Haneek and her fellows were being mendacious. They might well have been able to pull it off. Likewise, Haneek's upset with Kira about not wanting the Skreeans to be resettled on Bajor is something I think she has a right to feel. It would be difficult for Haneek to continue to like a person who thought that Haneek's people, a group of desperate refugees, shouldn't be resettled on the world of prophecy.
Matt Hamilton
35. MattHamilton
@33, that seems to be one of the problems with 24th century tech as written. When the writers came up with certain things like the replicators, they wrote themselves into a corner on occasion and needed to come up with a reason for a plot point to occur. Some things cannot be replicated, there is always a nebula nearby, that darn ionosphere is interefering with communications and scanners again. One big one I remember the writers of Stargate SG-1 talking about was the Zat gun. Shoot something once, it gets knocked out, twice it dies, three times it desintigrates. They used that as a quick way to get rid of late century technology in a time travel story and then muliple occasions sprung up where they could have used it but didn't. That's the problem with writing sci-fi technology. Make it too miraculous and you have to start coming up with reasons why it won't work. Replicators aside, I was going to say that too. Farming might just be easier or they may perfer to actually eat food instead of relying on replicated matter to feed an entire population. Plus, the Bajorans seem to be a society that, while technologically advanced, seem to like their cultural past and that may include a lot of agriculture.
TBonz
36. TheFrog
Everyone's forgetting about the votes. Just think of the voting base a Bajoran political party willing to fight for the Skreeans to settle on Bajor would gain.
TBonz
37. Zabeus
Speaking of farming, I just watched a S5 episode where a Maquis member is talking to Sisko about his hydroponically grown vegetables. Comparing it to replicated food, "Replicator Entree #103 -- Curried Chicken and Rice with a side order of carrots. Or at least, that's what they want us to believe. But you and I both know what we're really eating -- replicated protein molecules and textured carbohydrates." "It may look like chicken, but it still tastes like replicated protein molecules to me."
Brendan Guy
38. bguy
@33 Maybe the reason that use of replicators was never a problem on TNG was because the Enterprise had an anti-matter power source which presumably generates an enormous amount of power. People might be reluctant to put anti-matter power plants on a planet though because of the potential for catastrophic damage if something goes wrong (if the Enterprise's anti-matter reactor explodes it just destroys the Enterprise, but if an anti-matter reactor on a planet explodes it could destroy an entire continent.)
TBonz
39. MJSS
38: Even beyond the danger, there's some decent evidence that warp cores themselves are really expensive. I think it's arguable whether there are even as many Galaxy-class starships in the Federation as there are planets.

In any case, food is probably the least efficient thing you could possibly replicate, since the tolerances are so finicky. If there's any replicator shortage at all, you're likely better off replicating manufactured goods and using them to improve the efficiency of your preexisting farm economy...
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
40. Lisamarie
While I can see both sides here - perhaps things really could have worked out if the Skreeans and Bajorans worked together, and maybe they could have reached some kind of compromise (a small pilot population, a promise to revisit later) - I definitely think it was within Bajoran's rights to not allow this immigration while they are working on stabilizing their own planet. It irritated me that Haneek took this as a betrayal of their friendship. I had really liked her character up until that point, it struck me as very manipulative.

My husband also had the thought that perhaps they also had an Orb, so maybe their prophecy wasn't so far fetched.

I had some other thoughts I'm forgetting but I think they've all been mentioned anyway.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
41. Lisamarie
Oh yeah, the UT thing. The one thing that struck me as a bit odd was that, it is apparently able to parse out syntax, meaning, context as it is exposed to more examples of the speech. But when Haneek is trying to get the word for 'million' out, they just keep repeating larger numbers but in the same context...so I'm not sure how the UT was translating each word differently and deduced she meant 'million' instead of 'hundred'.
Joseph Newton
42. crzydroid
@33,38,39: The thing about fusion generators and even warp cores is that they don't magically produce power from nowhere. They require fuel. In the Star Trek universe, they require deuterium. In the case of the warp core, anti-deuterium and dilithium crystals are also needed. Having been stripped of all resources by the Cardassians, the Bajorans may have been hard-pressed to come by the amount of deuterium necessary to power the fusion generators needed to power replicators for everyone on Bajor. While the Federation might be willing to provide aid there, they still need to manage their own resources well.
TBonz
43. Data Logan
I agree with most everyone's sentiment here that the episode brought up very interesting and complex issues in regards to immigration -- but mostly overlooks them by wasting time on other things (Kira's life & UT issues) and jumping to an unexplained decision by the Bajoran government -- because the episode is about Kira and not the immigration.

The idea that the Skrreeans may have got their prophecy from a reliable source -- possibly even the very Prophets that the Bajorans worship -- is a very interesting idea to me. I like the idea of another group of people coming in that share some of the general Bajoran religious traits (belief in the Prophets), but also have very different viewpoint on it. This could lead to interesting stories/discussions about the meaning of religion to these peoples. It doesn't happen here with the Skrreeans, but something very similar does happen later on in the novels when the Eav'oq come on the scene.
TBonz
44. Thomas B
> Interpretation of religious dogma is a poor criterion to use in figuring out where to spend the rest of your life.

Good Trek episodes provide a reflection of how human societies actually interact, smart or no. I'm an atheist, but I don't want to whitewash religious thinking out of all storytelling.

An oppressed religious group finds its promised land, but its interests conflict with those in the area? The land is largely uninhabited, but only one kid tries to defy the polite 'no' of a dysfunctional (and mostly remote) government? It's dishonest to tidy this up so cleanly in an hour, especially in the show so highly regarded for long political arcs.

Better writing wouldn't have had a Draylon II, or would have had mass settlements in spite of Bajor's disapproval, causing ongoing conflicts for the next several seasons.

Someone smart once wrote:
> "And yes, I’m a total agnostic and rationalist, but I’ve always been interested in religious studies (blame the Jesuits at Fordham University), because it’s such a critical component of human behavior throughout history. The humans of Gene Roddenberry’s future don’t really do religion, but here with Klingons, and later with Bajorans, Trek can examine issues of faith."
http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/12/star-trek-the-next-generation-rewatch-rightful-heir

I thought that was particularly well put. That line is largely responsible for my disappointment with this episode, where I saw a missed opportunity to honestly examine that "critical component of human behavior."
TBonz
45. Etherbeard
I realize it's late, and I admit not having read every post in thread, so I apologize if I repeat something already stated.

As far as the Bajoran attitude is concrerned, I think it's important to point out that it was stated taht the Bajoran leadership spent a great deal of time in heated debate over the issue of Skrrean immigration. Also krad's point about the provision government having no business making decisions of this magnitude well-made.

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