Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch: “The Collaborator”

“The Collaborator”
Written by Greg Holland and Ira Steven Behr & Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 2, Episode 24
Production episode 40512-444
Original air date: May 22, 1994
Stardate: unknown

Station log: Bareil is having an orb experience. He walks out of the temple onto the Promenade, which is strangely empty—except for the body of a prylar hanging from the railing. Then he sees Kira playing springball. Kira cuts down the body, who is revealed to be Prylar Bek, though Kira says, “It’s you.”

Bareil comes up to the station for a booty call with Kira, which enables him to relax before the election of the new kai. Kira thinks Bareil is a shoo-in, especially since he was Opaka’s personal choice to succeed her. He also promises that he’ll always have time for Kira even if he’s elected kai.

Later they get dressed and go to the Promenade, to find Winn talking to some kids. She and Bareil have a very polite discussion that makes it clear that they well and truly despise each other. Kira also says she’ll be increasing security on the station—not for Winn’s safety, as she assumes, but for Bareil’s, given that the last time she was on DS9, an attempt was made on Bareil’s life. Winn denies responsibility for that (of course), and prays that some day Kira will put all this anger behind her and be Winn’s BFF.

Elsewhere on the Promenade, a Bajoran recognizes Kubus Oak, an elderly Bajoran who worked for the Bajoran Occupational Government, and was exiled as a collaborator. Odo welcomes him home and then arrests him.

Bareil has another orb experience: Bareil is announced as the new kai by Winn, but then Opaka shows up, telling Bareil to be at peace and to be strong. Then Bek appears, handing Bareil a gift from the Prophets: a snake. But when he removes it from the box, it’s a noose.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Collaborator

Odo and Kira visit Kubus in his cell. Kubus insists that he and the other Bajorans who worked with the Cardassians—the only recognized government on Bajor, as he reminds Odo—kept things from getting worse. Kubus just wants to go home, but Kira informs him that all members of the Occupational Government were exiled. He can’t go home.

Later, Odo informs Kira that Winn has granted sanctuary to Kubus, after she accessed information on Odo’s computer about Bek—who was also a collaborator. Bek was the liaison between the Cardassians and the vedek assembly, just as Kubus performed the same function for the Bajoran government, and they spent a lot of time together. Winn specifically looked up the Kendra Valley Massacre, during which Opaka’s son was one of dozens killed after Bek revealed their location to the Cardassians—something Bek confessed to in his suicide note.

Winn then demands that Kira allow her ship to depart. Kira insists on a full security check of any ship that departs with Kubus, one that could take days—or even weeks. Winn then reveals that Kubus has new information about the massacre, that Bek was a pawn. His superior is the one truly responsible: Bareil. Kira, naturally, doesn’t buy it—Winn insists she doesn’t, either, but needs to prove it before the elections. She intended to do a quiet investigation, but she wasn’t sure who she could trust to perform it—now, though, she thinks the Prophets have provided Kira. Winn promises to keep Kubus’s accusations quiet if Kira promises to reveal the results of the investigation, no matter what they may be.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Collaborator

Kira questions Kubus. He insists that Bek wasn’t a collaborator, he was just a messenger, and that Bareil had a long, argumentative meeting with Bek right before the prylar committed suicide. But Kubus’s speculation is just that—there’s no proof, and dozens of reasons why Bareil might have argued with Bek. So Kira questions Bareil, who says he only came to the station to give Bek spiritual advice.

To Odo and Kira’s dismay, all communications between the vedek assembly and Terok Nor in the week leading up to the massacre have been sealed. They then go to Quark, whom they know can get past that seal. Quark is reluctant to do so—“Not only is it illegal, it’s sacreligious”—but he does, only to find that the messages have also been erased. O’Brien can’t retrieve any data in time to do Kira any good, but he does learn who erased the files: Bareil.

Bareil has yet another orb experience: Bek accuses him of betraying him, he gets all smoochy-faced with a naked Winn, Kira stabs him, and he dies in Opaka’s arms. He comes out of the orb experience to find a pissed-off Kira at his temple. Bareil admits that the Cardassians were going to wipe out the entire valley and the only way to save them was to let the Cardassians know where the resistance was hiding out. Forty-three freedom fighters died to save 1200 innocent people.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Collaborator

Before Kira can even report to Winn, Bareil withdraws his name from consideration as the new kai, which leaves no real competition for Winn, who is elected. But Kira still thinks something’s wrong, as Bareil would face the consequences, not cover them up.

Then she finds the truth, because he didn’t erase the transit reports, which show he was on a retreat in the week leading up to the massacre. He had no communication while on the retreat, until he was called back after the massacre. Bareil finally admits that he was covering up for the real collaborator: Opaka, who knew where the resistance cell was because her son was part of it. She sacrificed her own flesh and blood in order to save the villagers. And Bareil sacrificed his own ambitions, and let Winn become kai in order to save Opaka’s legacy.

The Sisko is of Bajor: Winn visits Sisko, hoping to mend her relationship with him. She walks back her rather nasty words about the Federation in general and Sisko in particular from “In the Hands of the Prophets.” Sisko sees right through her pretty transparent attempt to create the perception that Sisko endorses her bid to become kai.

Don’t ask my opinion next time: Kira gets put in the awful position of having to prove Bareil’s innocence in a situation where doing so does something far worse.

Rules of Acquisition: Quark quotes the 285th Rule, and also the last one: “No good deed goes unpunished.”

Preservation of mass and energy is for wimps: Odo’s past as the Cardassian security chief comes into play here, as he was present for Bek’s suicide and he knew both Kubus and Bek in passing.

For Cardassia! The Cardassians had a Bajoran puppet government in place during the occupation, with Kubus serving as the liaison between them.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: When Kira admits to being in love with Bareil, Odo gets a hurt and surprised look on his face, the first indication that Odo’s feelings for Kira are anything beyond friendly, a subplot that will develop as the series progresses. However at the end, Kira and Bareil are still an item, even after she figures out the truth.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Collaborator

Keep your ears open: “All right, what’s going on? You want something from me, don’t you?”

“How’d you guess?”

“It’s simple: we’ve been here more than a minute and we haven’t insulted him, threatened him, or arrested him.”

“Exactly. So what is it and how much trouble is it going to cause me?”

Quark reading Kira and Odo perfectly.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Collaborator

Welcome aboard: Bert Remsen plays Kubus, and Tom Villard plays Bek. Philip Anglim, last seen in “Shadowplay,” is back as Bareil; he’ll return in “Fascination.” Louise Fletcher, last seen in “The Siege,” is back as Winn (and gets to be the new kai); she’ll return in “Life Support.” Camille Saviola, last seen in “Battle Lines,” is back in as an orb image as Opaka; she’ll return again as an orb image in “Accession.”

Trivial matters: Kubus plays a good-sized role in all three Terok Nor novels, particularly the first one, Day of the Vipers by James Swallow, which shows how Cardassia came to occupy Bajor, and in which Kubus is made part of the Bajoran Occupational Government. He also appears in Night of the Wolves and Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison; the incident with Bek, Opaka, and Opaka’s son is in the latter book, which names Opaka’s son as Opaka Fasil.

It’s unclear which orb Bareil is using, but given the tenor of the three visions he gets, it’s likely the same Orb of Prophecy and Change that he had Kira experience in “The Circle.”

The writers had been planning to make Bareil the new kai right up until the last minute, when they realized, as Ira Steven Behr put it in the Deep Space Nine Companion, “What the hell good is that going to do us?” The story possibilities with an antagonistic kai were far greater, so Winn was made the new kai. She’ll remain kai until the end of the series.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Collaborator

Walk with the Prophets: “If you’re wise, you will never speak to me with such disrespect again!” This is one of those episodes that’s more interesting for what it establishes in the mythos than what it actually accomplishes as an episode. We find out that Opaka condemned her own son to death, the enormity of which was sufficiently great that both Bek and Bareil moved heaven and earth and sacrificed a great deal (Bek more than Bareil, but still) to keep it quiet and preserve Opaka’s position. As has been stated often, Opaka’s helped hold Bajor together during the occupation, and even the whiff of collaboration would tarnish her forever (as witnessed by the opprobrium leveled at Kubus in the episode). We also get a new kai, and it’s the worst possible choice.

Kubus is actually the most fascinating character in the episode to me, because in the end he’s a tragic figure, a broken old man who just wants to come home. But as soon as Kira confronts him with the enormity of his crimes, he breaks down. He’s an interesting parallel to Marritza in “Duet”—a functionary who was doing the best he could in an impossible situation. But Kubus is less tragic than Marritza, for reasons Kira clearly outlines.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Rewatch on Tor.com: The Collaborator

I kinda wish we’d seen more of him, but once he serves his purpose in moving the plot along, he’s dropped like a hot potato. (Where does he wind up living, anyhow?) Mostly spending more time on Kubus would’ve meant less time on Bareil, which would only be to the good. Bareil is our viewpoint character, and focusing on him just shines a light on Philip Anglim’s limitations. His serene act works nicely when he’s being a noble religious authority, but it falls completely flat when he’s trying to be tortured and worried. His blank stare drains the life out of the scene every time he finishes an orb experience, and there’s no emotional content to his performance, cutting off the agony of what he’s supposed to be doing at the knees.

Louise Fletcher remains deliciously evil as Winn, and her sweet demeanor continues to serve her well, as it’s an effective velvet glove—which makes it more effective when she reveals the iron fist underneath it while upbraiding Kira for speaking disrespectfully. Winn isn’t at her best in this episode, but again it sets her up as a magnificent recurring antagonist, the biggest roadblock to Sisko’s goal of getting Bajor into the Federation.

 

Warp factor rating: 5


Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at the Collingswood Book Festival this coming Saturday 5 October 2013 in Collingswood, New Jersey. Look for him at the Dark Quest Books table (publishers of his “Precinct” series of fantasy police procedurals, including the recent short story collection Tales from Dragon Precinct).

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