Deep Space Nine s1e03: “Past Prologue”

Tuesday night is henceforth DS9 night, and this is where the series truly begins, to start filling in details of the world that surrounds the silent, unmoving station.

Episode 3 focused upon three characters principally, although only one of them started to take proper shape. ‘Past Prologue’ was about Major Kira’s past as a Bajoran terrorist, and to the extent of how much she was changed since the Cardassians were thrown off her planet.

Kira’s stance was set off against that of Tana Los, a former comrade-in-arms who has remained a terrorist, with the Khon-Ma. Tana entered, stage right, pursued by a Cardassian ship bent on shooting him down. Immediately he was teleported aboard DS9, he claimed Political Asylum. Commander Sisko’s first decision was whether to grant it.

As far as Kira was concerned, there was no question: Sisko had to protect Tana. When he actually showed signs of thinking it through first, she tried going over his head to the Admiral, which didn’t work this time and was contraindicated as a means of progressing her career if she ever tried it again.

What Kira saw was a man who, claiming he had renounced the Khon-Ma, and violence, could do immeasurable good in helping to build up Bajor. Tana was less convinced that Bajor was on the right course: he wanted a planet that was not merely independent but isolated, and at the end of the day his plan was to achieve that in one go by exploding a vastly explosive device to shut down this end of the Wormhole. No wormhole, nothing for the Federation or the Cardassians to want out of Bajor. Simple as.

In the end, Kira was forced to lay her faith in what she saw as Bajor’s best interest. Having to betray either Tana or Sisko, to whom she had no actual loyalty, ended with her committing to the Federation. Tana was defeated, and surrendered to the Federation rather than have the Cardassians take him home, but he still managed to flay the worried Kira with the word ‘Traitor’. The Major made the right choice, but it clearly felt wrong on some fundamental level she’s going to have to work out.

And, on a lighter note, at least Nana Visitor had gotten rid of that dreadfully ugly hairdo from the pilot and settled on the rather sharp, slightly mannish and very Eighties style that she wears for the rest of the series. Much hotter, and it lets us see that weird Bajoran ear jewellery out in the open.

Though this was a Kira-centric episode, it didn’t look to be so during the deliberately lightweight first half of the pre-credit sequence. This was given over to Doctor Bashir, not really opening up but certainly demonstrated his utter naivete at this stage, as he nervously responds to an approach by the enigmatic Garak, played with subtle glee by Andrew Robinson. As the lone Cardassian still on the station, suspected to be a spy but protesting that he is a mere tailor, Robinson stayed far from overplaying but still marked what would be a gloriousrecurring role for all it was worth.

And in his intrigues with the renegade Klingon sisters – were those cleavages real, or just impressive costumery? – to sell out Tana, which he deliberately exposed to Bashir, was the beginning of one long and interesting journey. Not that either he or Bashir gave anything away that was more than superficial. It’s early yet, plenty of time for them to start to be defined.

I’m not going to start handing out marks out of ten or anything like that, but this was a good, well thought-out and intriguing episode, ideal for opening out a new series. There should, I hope, be more such to come.

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