Deep Space Nine: s03 e13 – ‘Life Support’

As it must...
As it must…

One day, I’d like to unreservedly praise an episode of DS9, without caveat or disappointment. That could have been today, because two-thirds of this latest episode was good, very good indeed: strong of purpose, important of theme and wonderfully acted.

Unfortunately, the producers and writers of this episode chose to include an unrelated B-story, to spin out the time, to counteract the atmosphere created by the A-story. A change of pace and style can often be very effective, but I question the mindset of anyone who thought that these stories belonged within a million miles of each other.

Let’s dispense with the shitty and unworthy comic relief B-story. Jake Sisko is approached by a young, attractive (and short) girl named Leanna, who basically asks him out of a date. It clashes with a domjock game with Nog, who happily gives that up, assuming Jake has organised a double-date. Leanne brings a friend but the whole thing is an utter disaster because Nog acts like a Ferenghi towards women. The pair fall out, but by getting Odo to throw them into the same cell on a specious charge, Jake gets to repair their friendship. It’s as trivial as it is unfunny. Forget it.

Of a much greater order is the main story. A Bajoran ship is damaged by an accident and brings casualties to DS9. It is carrying Kai Wynn and Vedek Bariel to secret peace negotiations with Cardassia. These are primarily of Bariel’s doing: he has devoted the last five months towards setting up an accord. Unfortunately, he has sustained the worst injuries, crippled by radiation. So much so that he dies.

It’s a tremendous loss to both Major Kira and the the Kai. Nerys has lost her love and her lover. Kai Wynn has lost the hope of peace, for the benefit of all Bajor, and her own place in history.

And then it happens. Doctor Bashir is about to perform an autopsy on Bariel when electrical activity is seen in the brain. Using an experimental combination of drugs and electrostimulation (for once explained with clarity and plausibility, without gubbins), Bashir brings Bariel back to life. It is amazing.

It is not the end of the story though. Bariel’s body has been badly damaged and a side-effect of the treatment that has restored him is to constrict the blood-flow through his body. He is still dying, and Bashir wants to put him into stasis so that there may be a chance that his condition can be treated.

But the Kai desperately wants  Bariel for his advice during the Peace Talks. He is, literally, irreplaceable, the one man who knows everything. Bashir is angry, accusing her of coldness, of being prepared to sacrifice Bariel in order to preserve her place in history.It’s all very plausible, though Louise Fletcher played Wynn utterly straight, to the extent that I thought throughout that she was sacrificing Bariel not for herself, but for Bajor.

The thing was, Bariel wanted to do this. He had placed the Peace Talks above himself, thinking only of the role the Prophets had called upon him to play. Against his wishes, Bashir strove to keep Bariel alive for long enough.

It was difficult. An experimental drug helped Bariel focus, but it began to attack his internal organs. These were replaced by artificial devices, but the radiation effects reached Bariel’s brain. He demanded Bashir replace the damaged part with a positronic mesh, which kept him going but at the expense of almost all human feeling.

In the end, the Talks worked and an Accord was signed. Everybody, but Bashir, celebrated. And then it came: the rest of Bariel’s brain was affected. The Kai, who of course no longer needed him, accepted the inevitable. Kira, losing her man, raged against it, pleaded with Bashir to fit another positronic mesh. This he would not do. Bariel’s body might live, but he would no longer be Bariel.

So it came to an end. Kira spent the final few hours with her love, saying the things that had never been said, the things that there would have been time for in another world, simple, almost banal, but the words that come to a heart in times like this, when words can no longer matter even if they could have been heard.

Once again, Philip Anglim and Louise Fletcher were superb in their guest roles. It was a moving and serious story, one that deserved to be watched in isolation without the stupid, ill-chosen B-story to keep taking you away from what really mattered.

Maybe next time.


Deep Space Nine: s03 e10 – Fascination

The Red Dress
The Red Dress

After last week’s dramatic and dynamic episode, this week we got a silly, inconsequential story that probably needed to be anchored to concrete pilings to keep from being wafted away by the breezes. Though it overused the silly brush a bit too much, the whole thing was generally good fun to watch, without ever pretending to a dramatic element.

It was all there in in the open, which was a round robin slice of life giving no clues as to the direction of the eventual story and relying upon a sting ending when Ambassador Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barratt, gleefully chewing the scenery as ever) arrived on the station.

It’s the day of the Bajoran Festival of Gratitude on DS9, Major Kira presiding. Jake’s miserable because his dabo-girl girlfriend, Marta, has gone off to college 300 light years away. Kira is eagerly awaiting the arrival of Vedek Bariel, who she plans to spend every minute she’s not presiding by shagging him into a husk. Chief O’Brien has similar plans for the two day break that Keiko is back from her botanical project on Bajor (his unexpended energy is being displaced into so many racketball games that Doctor Bashir’s arm is practically falling off, and you can keep that lewd thought in your head, please). Odo is starting to get all wistful over the Major. Oh yes, love – or certainly lust – is in the air. Enter Mrs Troi.

The Ambassador is here to see Odo, ostensibly to help him through the discovery that his people are the Dominion, but in reality because she has feelings for him. Unfortunately, she also has Xanthi fever, a disease that affects mature Betazoids and causes them to project their emotions onto others, overriding their true feelings.

Thus, every time Mrs Troi winces at a headache pain, the nearest person to her gets a brief jabbing pain above the eye and immediately sets off in hot pursuit of the nearest love object.

So the 16 year old Jake decides that the problem with Marta was that she was too young and gets the hots for Kira Nerys (this need not have had anything to do with Xanthi fever, especially as Nana Visitor spent most of the episode out of uniform), Bariel starts panting after Jardzia Dax (who gets to deck him with a single punch), whilst the Trill (with leopard spots going all the way down to her neckline) starts making google-eyes at a clearly embarrassed Sisko.

As for Nerys and Julian, played by a future married pair of actors, they get a mutual dose and get to snog and grope each other something rotten. No tongues, though.

Even Quark gets in on the act, flapping his ears at Keiko O’Brien, who was wearing the red dress Miles wanted her to wear and demonstrating clearly why he wanted her to wear it, though that only serves to give the game away.

Yes, the O’Briens were an interesting component of this episode. As I said, they were reunited after two months apart, for only two days before another four months separation and the reunion did not start at all as the eager Chief wanted to. Keiko was tired, and also troubled about how to break it to her hubby that the dig might be extended by another two to three months. Miles, thrown off balance by the way Keiko was nothing like as pleased to see him as he was her, didn’t know how to handle this and pretty much flew off the handle.

I could sympathize with him: I went through something similar pretty much thirty years ago, and the bafflement and heartbreak weren’t hard to empathize with. With all the lust sloshing round, the prospect of the episode’s one genuine couple going down the tubes was a necessary corrective. Eventually, O’Brien resolved it the only way you can resolve it, by putting the other one first and trusting in their love. Which is why Keiko wore the red dress, leading many of us to regret that she doesn’t do that more often.

Like I said, inconsequential. The episode is said to be based very loosely on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I can see the point of contact once it’s pointed out to me, but it’s a far looser fit than anything Happy Mondays ever sang about. Typically, it ended on a serious note that managed to be poignant. Mrs Troi’s projected amours were directed at Odo, who was unable and, giving his hidden feelings for Kira, unwilling to respond. Majel Barratt dialled it down beautifully in recognising that her feelings were not reciprocated, like those of Odo, and admitted that she would wait and hope for second best. She surprised him with a kiss, which Odo received awkwardly, but afterwards found surprisingly tender, one more moment that resonated with me.

Reset and resume next week.

Deep Space Nine: s02 e24 – The Collaborator

Nothing good will come of this

I found this to be a very much better episode than those I’ve been watching in recent weeks, and not merely because this was a rare episode that formed part of a longer, ongoing chain of events. Nor even because it was another Major Kira-centric episode, with the rest of the cast only playing bit-part roles, subservient to the plot.

The open consisted of a quasi-dream sequence, identifiable as such after only five seconds or so. Vedek Bariel – Bajor’s hottest tip to become the new Kai, and Kira’s current hot squeeze – is wandering around a deserted area until he finds a body in religious clothing hanging from a gantry. Kira, hot and sweaty from a solo game of handball, cuts down the body, whom Bariel identifies as Prylar Bek (who he?). But Kira contradicts him, saying it is actually Bariel. We cut to Bariel in his quarters, closing the door on the Orb: it has been a vision, but one cast in symbolic terms.

After the credits, we get a beefcake shot of Philip Anglim (Bariel) showing off his abs, whilst Kira languishes on a couch in an off-the-shoulder and off-the-thighs sleeping shift, hair erotically rumpled (wooorgh, you’ll be badly). It’s two days before the Choosing, the selection of a new Kai, and whilst Bariel is hot favourite, Vedek Winn (Louise Fletcher) is also on DS9, still battling for an edge. Kira’s openly contemptuous, Sisko diplomatically so. It’s not looking good for religious fanatics around here.

Then a seemingly unrelated understory begins, though given the episode title, we should be cautious about assuming this is the counterplot. An elderly man, Kubus Oak, is denounced on the promenade as a former member of the collaborationist Government. As such, he is a traitor, condemned to exile from Bajor, though Oak protests that he was able to minimise Cardassian brutality, and anyway, what harm can it do to allow an old man to have his last, few, ineffectual years at home?

Major Kira puts paid to that feeble excuse is a taut, clipped explanation of why some things are quite literally unforgivable, and that seems to be that, until Vedek Winn offers Kubus sanctuary. On Bajor. The Major refuses to let him leave the station, which brings everything together nicely. Winn claims that Oak has knowledge of who collaborated with the Cardassians to bring about the infamous Kendra Valley Massacre, the slaughter of 43 resistance fighters, including Kai Opaka’s son.

But everybody knows who was to blame, Kira protests. It was Prylar Bek. He admitted it in a note. Just before he went out and hung himself.

Not so, according to Kubus. Bek was just a go-between, a messenger pigeon for the real Collborator – a Vedek.

It’s obvious where Winn is going with this, and Kira gets up in her face about it, especially as the evidence is so scanty. But time is short, and the mere revelation of the suspicion would do for Bariel so Kira agrees to investigate. Her word will be seen as honest.

I should also mention that, in addition to the ongoing narrative, we are treated to other Orb-visions (Bariel just can’t keep away). These showcase Bariel’s own doubts about becoming Kai, his fears that he is inadequate to the task, and ultimately Kira will betray, and kill him.

One of the things I was definitely appreciating about this episode was that I just had no idea where it was going, and how it would come out. I suspected, given that Kira was in charge of the investigation, that it would ultimately point to Bariel, but had great difficulty in imagining how that could be the outcome without seriously violating his character.

But Bariel’s evasiveness under questioning confirmed very quickly that he was going to be found with at least one finger in the pie, and that expectation grew when it was determined that certain Vedek communications had been sealed. Sealed? They’d been wiped. And the wiper was, of course, Bariel.

It was still pretty flimsy evidence. All it was was the absence of evidence, and a cooler-headed investigator would have weighed things up more carefully, but the distraught and betrayed Kira jumped to the cheap conclusion that the records could only have been erased because they were incriminating, and obligingly, Bariel confirmed that he had given away the rebel’s location.

That he could do something like that was explained on a lesser-of-two-evils basis: the Cardassians proposed to kill everyone in Kendra Valley and Bariel, faced with the choice no human being should ever be forced to make because no answer is right, weighed 1,200 innocents in one hand, and 43 rebels in the other, and chose to spare the innocents. No wonder he felt himself to be unworthy of the Kai-ship.

This placed the Major in the invidious position of having to deliver to her hated enemy the sword with which she would execute the man Kira loved, but there Bariel had already acted to spare her: he had withdrawn from the Choosing, so Winn had no need to smear him. And Vedek Winn duly became Kai Winn. This story was far from over.

And the lesser portion of it represented by this episode was also not over. The heartbroken, betrayed Kira still couldn’t believe it of her beloved, and a little bit of lateral thinking turned up unerased records of a completely different kind that proved Bariel couldn’t possibly have betrayed the Kendra Valley rebels: he just wasn’t there at the critical time.

So, if he were innocent, who then was he protecting, who meant more to him that Kira and himself? In a final meeting, Kira answered her own question. It was Opaka herself who had betrayed the rebels, even her own son, to death, to save innocents: Bariel had taken responsibility onto himself so that faith in Kai Opaka should not be disturbed. It was an action Kira could accept, and she reaffirmed her love, as the two prepared for the difficult days ahead…

A superior episode in every respect, and one to restore my faith in the series. Only two more episodes remaining in season two: I need to get hold of season three in the next couple of weeks.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine s2 e01-03: The Homecoming/The Circle/The Seige

Frankly, the majority of Deep Space Nine season 1 was underwhelming, the odd episode here and there, though it challenged itself to do better in the last two episodes. I was curious to see to what extent that would carry on into the second season, when DS9 was still the junior partner to Next Generation, then going into its final season.

I did wonder if we would once again get a season-opening two partner, but instead the series went for broke with a three-parter – this first ever in Star Trek history, I understand – which took the show to an altogether new level, in which I begin to see the show I so thoroughly enjoyed.

The triple-episode was heavily Kira-centric, which always suits me down to the ground, especially if it gets Nana Visitor out of that heavily-Eighties super-shoulder padded uniform top, so I was highly satisfied here.

At first, the opening episode concealed its scope. Quark acquires a Bajoran ear-ring, smuggled off Cardassia 4, which Major Kira recognises as belonging to the great Resistance Leader and hero, Li Nalis (an excellent guest role played by Richard Beymer, not that long since of Twin Peaks), long believed dead. Kira asks for a runabout to go to Cardassia 4 and rescue him.

Sisko is initially concerned about the effect of a virtual Federation invasion of the Cardassian Empire but after discovering graffitti supporting the Circle – a fringe group of Bajor-for-the-Bajoran  extremists – sends O’Brien with the Major. The Provisional Government on Bajor, with whom the Federation is allied, is not doing well. It is split by factions, and is ignoring the problems of Bajoran citizens. Planet-wide, the Bajorans are slowly disintegrating: Sisko sees the value of a charismatic leader with broad-based support.

Kira and O’Brien’s mission is a complete success, greater than they anticipated, since there are over a dozen Bajoran prisoners in a work camp. They have to land to rescue almost all of them: four stay behind to cover Nalis’s retreat. But back on DS9, Kira and Sisko receive a great shock: Gul Dukat himself presenting an apology for the unknown Bajoran prisoners, who should have been handed back ages ago: those who stayed back are also being repatriated to Bajor.

But things are not destined to be so simple. In its first season, DS9 a couple of times featured legendary heroes whose repute was based upon fiction, and Nalis is another. Not that he is guilty of exaggeration: from the very beginning he tried to tell the comic circumstances of the great exploit on which his reputation was built, only to find himself trapped by the epic story his fellow rebels made of it (cf. The Man who shot Liberty Valance: when the legend becomes fact, print the legend!).

Nalis feels trapped by his own reputation, unworthy of the awe in which he is held, uncomfortable at the hopes placed in him. It’s an intriguing situation,though unfortunately, even in a three-parter,  there isn’t room to explore this sensation beyond Nalis’s initial, embarrassed admissions.

Because the rescue of Li Nalis is a big thing, and Bajor wants to celebrate. Minister Jaro Essa arrives at the station with an official admonition for Kira for declaring war on the Cardassians, even though Cardassia hasn’t taken up the gauntlet, and personal congratulations. Nalis accepts his fate and returns to Bajor to shoulder his burdens. Meanwhile, the threat of the Circle grows: Sisko’s quarters are grafittied as well.

But Nalis doesn’t stay on Bajor long. He is returned by Minister Jaro, newly-entitled Navark – a rank invented for him and him alone. The very qualities that Sisko saw in him make him a menace to the Provisional Government so in order to neuter him, Nalis has been appointed the Bajoran Liaison to the Federation on Deep Space Nine: Major Kira is being ‘promoted’ back to Bajor.

End of Part 1.

I know that, strictly speaking, I should leave it at that, but I was too enthused by the opening part to be willing to wait two weeks to see the story, so, as I didn’t have to, I ploughed on immediately.

‘The Circle’ goes on to expand the scope of the story immensely, but first it treats us to a scene of both comedy and affection. Kira in her quarters (jacket off!) is packing, and being interrupted by all the rest of the cast, Sisko excepted, turning up at even shorter intervals than the dwarves at Bilbo’s door, each with their own variation on goodbye. She’s driven almost to distraction until the last visitor turns out to be Vedek Bariel, inviting her to a contemplative break at his monastery.

But that’s the last of the comedy. The Circle it seems are considerably more than experts with a yellow aerosol can. Quark’s connections reveal to him that they are smuggling enough artillery onto Bajor to equip an army, whilst Sisko’s visit to General Krim arouses his suspicions that the Army aren’t going to lift a finger to defend the Provisional Government when the crunch comes.

Quark has no intention of being anywhere within earshot of any crunches, and is planning to have it away on his toes from DS9 after cluing Odo in, and he only does that because he’d been assaulted and branded with the Circle symbol in part 1. Unfortunately, Odo maliciously deputizes the Ferenghi, forcing him to stay, which proves to be of extreme use later on.

At the Monastery, Kira is having trouble adjusting to doing nothing. She’s very much aware that she’s undergoing punishment, and despite hating her job when she started it, she really does miss DS9. Bariel seems to be taking an unpriestly interest in her, providing the devout Kira with an experience with the Third Orb: Kira has a strange vision which culminates with her finding herself naked with Bariel and about to become lovers…

Even after Bariel admits to an Orb-vision involving Kira, she conceals this aspect from him.

Unfortunately the vision also included Vedek Winn, and here she appears in real life, sweetly but poisonously berating Bariel for letting the Major anywhere near the Orb, and unsubtly suggesting Kira hightail it out of here pretty damned sharpish.

This quickly comes to pass, although not voluntarily: Kira is kidnapped by three men in monk’s robes. They are of the Circle, and she is taken to their underground headquarters where she meets the man behind the Circle: Minister Jaro.

Of course he’s the villain in all this: he’s being played by a strangely-uncredited Frank Langella which is tantamount to waving a great big flag with ‘I am a miserable, rotten, sneaky, treacherous bastard’ on it. Jaro intends to bring down the Provisional Government and take power for himself. He also wants – and gets – the support of Wnn’s faction: after all, they share the same goals and she’ll make one hell of a Kai.

What Jaro wants from Kira is what the Federation, and Sisko in particular, will do when they topple the Provisional Government. Kira refuses to answer, even after torture, from which she is rescued by Sisko and co, after Deputy Quark comes up with a location for Circle Headquarters.

To add to this increasing turmoil, Odo has discovered that, unbeknownst to them, the Circle are being equipped by the Cardassians. And why not? Once the Bajoran extremists eject the Federation, they’ll be wide open for the Cardassians to march back in again. And it’s all starting to kick off. DS9 is jammed electronically, two battle cruisers are en route to the station and, despite the long-term political implications, Sisko is ordered to evacuate from DS9: it is the Prime Directive: they cannot and must not interfere with local disputes.

So Sisko plans a retreat. The battle cruisers are due in seven hours, but all Federation personnel could be off-station in three. However, Sisko has other plans. If he’s got to evacuate then he’s damned well going to evacuate everything: every last nut and bolt of every piece of Federation equipment is going with them. O’Brien reckons it will take a week. Very well then: they’ll just have to dig in and stay until they’re good and ready.

End of Part 2.

‘The Seige’ began almost immediately afterwards. Sisko gathered together all the Federation officers to put to them the situation. To stay would be difficult, demanding and dangerous: not all of them are full-time DS9 staff: no-one who wished to leave would be blamed. And all stayed.

But an evacuation was still necessary, for families and other non-Bajorans, which led to a variety of short but neatly judged scenes: Keiko O’Brien’s resentment that the Chief put Sisko and his duty ahead of her, Jake’s petulance at moving on yet again and losing another friend countered by Nog’s refusal to accept that their friendship would, or even could break, and Quark’s plan to profit by selling seats, only to find in the end that his browbeaten brother Rom had sold his!

So the seige began. Dax left with Kira, to locate an old resistance ship that would get them to Bajor and get the proof of the Cardassian involvement to the Council of Ministers. Dax had changed into civilian clothes: everyone had bar the Major (shame) since Starfleet itself have withdrawn.

And it was a most unusual seige, consisting of allowing the  Bajoran forces, under General Krim – who was too smart not to realise there was something going on – and Colonel Day – who was all gung-ho cowardly lying Federation have fled us and too stuffed with the Circle’s principles to see that the sheer emptiness of DS9 was a trap.

Guerilla tactics effect a bloodless coup and hold the Bajoran military long enough for Kira, with Vedek Barial’s aid, to get the vital evidence to the Council of Ministers, just as Minister Jaro is assuming how. He blusters and bluffs smoothly enough, but Vedek Winn is too wiley not to understand that this is not going any further. She insists on the evidence being examined: it is the end.

So finally the order goes out to return to Bajor. The Provisional Government holds, the Federation remain its allies and DS9 is ceded back to Sisko. The frustated Day attempts to gain revenge by assassinating Sisko, but Li Nalas intercepts the shot, dying for his people, as we who understand the mechanics of televison series in this era knew he always would.

He remained a legend though, and in more than just the Bajoran’s eyes. Sisko will always see him as such.

So: a superb, effectively sustained three-parter that set Deep Space Nine it’s own challenge for season 2: keep up that standard. The kind of stories that had been writen in the first season would no longer do. The series came of age here, and I at least will be expecting more and better from it from now on.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – s01 e20 – “In the Hands of the Prophets”

Deep Space Nine‘s first season came to an end with an effective double-punch, following on from “Duet” with a similarly-strong script again based on Bajoran politics and religion, a subject which, on this showing, seems indivisible. Originally, the series planned to end with a crossover with Next Generation, ending its penultimate season, but this stand alone, which reawakened the otherwise ignored religious role of Benjamin Sisko as Emissary to the Prophets, would serve to introduce a running theme that the series would develop until its end.

“In the Hands of the Prophets” introduced two religious leaders, or Vedeks, representing opposing poles within the Bajoran religion. Vedek Winn appears in the open, on the station, taking steps to close down Keiko O’Brien’s school because she is teaching the children the scince of the Wormhole, instead of its spiritual significance to Bajor. She’s played with perfect calm by Louise Fletcher, best known as Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The other is Vedek Bariel, played by Philip Anglim. Bariel doesn’t enter the story until midway, when Sisko visits him at his garden sanctuary on Bajor. Bariel, who is favourite to succeed Opaka as the Kai, is Winn’s opposite. He is liberal, outreaching, eager to see useless tradition abandoned, where Winn is fundamentalist to her core.

I must admit that, at first, I thought the episode was going to act as an allegory for the Creationism vs Evolution argument, but despite the fact that Star Trek has always been an essentially scientific, rationalist series, that would have been going too far for a Network series in the early post-Reagan, Born Again era. Nevertheless, Keiko does stand up for herself, insisting upon the teaching of fact, of information not ignorance, when Winn suggests a ‘compromise’ of teaching nothing whatsoever about the wormhole.

Tensions begin to rise on the station. Bajorans begin to withdraw from serving humans. Winn forces the closure of the School by removing all the Bajoran pupils.

Meanwhile, there’s a b-story that’s slowly working its way towards merger into the lead plot. It begins with O’Brien heavily praising his new, Bajoran, assistant Neela (introduced in the previous episode), and his discovery that he’s missing an important security tool. The search for this leads to the discovery of a disintegrated body, a missing ensign. Everything points towards an accident, but O’Brien doesn’t buy it, and as the investigation slowly uncovers pieces of evidence here and there, another explanation starts to thrust itself forward.

It’s clearly a murder, for reasons as yet unknown.

The two strands come together when the School – thankfully empty – is bombed. Sisko confronts Winn, accuses her intolerance of being the cause of this violence. He gives a great speech about how the Federation and Bajor are learning to work and live together, that despite what mistakes they make, daily they grow more into colleagues, allies and friends, where her way is meant to separate. The commotion is enough to draw Vedek Bariel up from Bajor.

The episode’s one flaw is the same flaw all such episodes face in a dramatic serial. Several minutes before she reveals herself as working with – or rather for – Winn, I’d fingered Neela as the ‘mole’. It’s too obvious:  a guest star, not integrated into the series, what else is she there for?

And she’s to assassinate Bariel, removing him from Winn’s path, except that O’Brien’s probings uncover the steps she’s taken to bypass security and create an escape route for herself, and Sisko prevents the killing. Of course, Neela claims to have acted alone, and thus, whilst everyone knows about Winn, nothing can be done. There are, after all, many seasons ahead.

A very clever episode, returning to Sisko’s status as Emissary, as introduced in the pilot but otherwise left untouched all season, to lend a nice air pf symmetry to the finale. It opened up a line of inquiry about Bajorans and their spiritual beliefs that could be extended in the future. And it reinforced how Major Kira had grown throughout the series.

Which was more than most of the characters had. Looking back at Season 1, now that I’ve seen it in its entirety, I’m struck by how little all the characters were developed. Major Kira is the great exception, and whilst Odo was underused, he at least had attached to him an air of mystery, due to his unique nature and its complete lack of background.

The worst treated, as far as I was concerned, were Quark and Doctor Bashir. The Ferenghi was never more than a comic caricature, often wheeled on for a couple of scenes just to remind us he was a cast member, but rarely of any great relevance to any stories, whilst the Doctor never grew beyond being hopelessly naive and bumptious: a very shallow portrayal, but Bashir was limited by what little they gave him to do.

Only slightly more fleshed out was Dax. Terry Farrell was undeniably pretty, but her acting chops were limited, and so too had to be her lines. Jake Sisko didn’t appear in more than half the episodes, and was only ever allowed parts of stories that showed him as raw, whilst his father, given Avery Brooks’ curiously stilted manner of speaking, was given the leading role and ample screen-time, but failed so far to really impress himself as a central character. Too often, Sisko’s leadership came from his position, not his personality.

Those would need to improve in later series. Indeed, it did. Season 2 is ready to play. See you next week.