Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"In the Hands of the Prophets"

***1/2

Air date: 6/21/1993
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by David Livingston

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

And so the first season comes to a close, showing exactly the direction DS9 intends to take where the major issues are concerned: Bajor and its politics and philosophies. "In the Hands of the Prophets" explores what happens when Federation secular teachings and Bajoran religion collide.

Bajoran Vedek Winn (Louise Fletcher) publicly denounces the classroom teachings of Keiko O'Brien's school. The result is a sudden rift between the Bajoran and Federation peoples, undermining everything Sisko hopes to accomplish. As with the best philosophy-oriented shows, this season-ender brings a great deal of probing substance to its plotting. Scenes like the one where Sisko fairly explains the meanings and intentions of Winn and her followers to his son are what really makes these events and attitudes believable. This is not simple by any stretch of the imagination, and by not reducing any of the characters to single dimensions, the script does a superb job of handling its premise.

Sisko attempts to seek help from another Bajoran religious establishment, introducing the character of Vedek Bareil (Philip Anglim), who cannot immediately offer help. ("It seems the Prophets also teach you politics," Sisko remarks very correctly.) Meanwhile, a subplot involving the mysterious death of one of O'Brien's engineering staff opens up hints of a conspiracy, which ties in beautifully with the main story. The bombing of Keiko's school complicates matters, and is enough to convince Bareil to come to the station to offer his religious perspectives on the matter.

There's a lot of plot here, and pretty much all of it works when it comes together, tying Winn in cahoots with O'Brien's Bajoran engineering assistant Neela (Robin Christopher) and revealing their intentions to assassinate Bareil—Winn's opposing candidate. The episode sports standout performances from everybody, but especially from Avery Brooks who plays Sisko with a commendable passion for his mission. The ending displays the understanding that the Bajorans and Federation have come to in the past six months, but it's easy to see there's much more to come in terms of political intrigue next season.

Previous episode: Duet
Next episode: The Homecoming

Season Index

75 comments on this review

Joe Ford - Fri, Sep 21, 2007 - 6:19pm (USA Central)
Oh how I miss Deep Space Nine

Whilst I feel the first season was hit and miss when it came to episode quality the sheer size and scope of this universe and the potential for storytelling was phenomenal. From the opening moments of Emissary suddenly Star Trek was up close and personal and it was clear that this was a series that was a quantum leap away from Star Trek TNG.

Whilst Sisko, Dax and Bashir took a little while to mature and grown on me the alien characters were instantly fascinating. I can remember watching Emissary aged twelve and I felt as if I had been absorbed into a new world of political conspiracies, alien shapshifters, scarred worlds and aching sadness. It was eye opening.

So how does series one fare? Emissary is a big bold opener with lots of great ideas that would be built upon in late seasons, it is easily my favourite opening episode of any Trek series.

Past Prologue continues the trend, political wranglings and tortured Kira making for especially good viewing with Garak as added fun.

A Man Alone is the first dud but it still contains some gems of scenes, I feel a sense of uneasiness here of a show trying new things and uncertain how to get it right.

Babel is ridiculously entertaining for such a barmy premise. I really enjoy the Quark/Odo banter here and the two of them working together at the climax works a treat.

Captive Pursuit confirms it was a big triumph bringing over Colm Meaning from TNG and giving him more screen time. He emotes everybody else off the screen and provides this action episode with real heart.

DS9 works less well when it is trying to be TNG, a trick they soon learnt to forget (of which Voyager should have taken note!) and Q-Less is an exmaple of an episode with some comedy nuggets but little else to reccomend. Q's mockery of Bashir and Quark though is brilliant.

Dax is DS9's first courtroom drama and I find it far more interesting than any of the others they attempted. Farrell gives a lovely, sensitive performance and the writing is crisp and the Bajoran arbiter a delight. Another success.

I really enjoyed The Passenger on my first viewing but now enjoy it less and less. Siddig's performance as the villain is frankly an embarrassment (and it is rare to say that in DS9) and although the episode contains some nice dark moments I think this is a feeble attempt at horror compared to late efforts (Darkness and the Light)

Move Along Home is essentially a harmless episode with some nice visuals but it cheats at the end like the Voyager reset and for once Quark is actually quite annoying.

The Nagus was the first of many wonderful Ferengi episodes. I have been visiting Jammer's website for years and years and I think the only real disagreement I have with his DS9 reviews is the Ferengi episodes. The strike me as good old fashioned British humour, well scripted and performed. I just love the extended Ferengi family and they inadvertently end bringing that sense of warmness and family to DS9 that was absent on both TNG and Voyager despite many relations showing up.

Vortex allows the ever wonderful Rene Auberjonois to shine. Odo's story was probably the most interesting of all the regulars and his path to discover his people starts here. His little confession to the locket is lovely.

Battle Lines is one of my favourites this year, a really meaty episode with some striking performances. Kira's character growth brings me to tears in places and the cruel fate of Kai Opaka proves this is a series that plays by its own rules.

Bashir and O'Brien is one of the great Star Trek pairings so why is The Storyteller such a chore to watch? Their chemistry is not quite there yet and the story itself is a bit predictable.

Progress is one of the wonderful 'little' stories DS9 excels at every now and again. Whilst there is a larger story playing out the focus here is the intimate relationship between Mullibok and Kira. The 'great ugly tree' always gets a laugh from me and the finale is astonishingly understated and emotional.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, If Wishes Were Horses is a silly idea that is treated immaturely. The actors play the comedy well but this feels like a waste of an hour.

The Forsaken is very enjoyable. Three plots, farce, tragedy and SF and all work well. Mrs Troi has never been a favourite of mine (although she did send up some TNG characters wonderfully on the odd occasion) but her relationship with Odo is surprisingly sweet and watchable.

Dramatis Personae is my least favourite episode this year. It just feels WRONG. Kira is a ridiculous bully, Sisko the plotter, O'Brien the agressor...its a TNG episode that refuses to work on DS9. Lousy episode.

Duet was and is possibly the finest DS9 (and Trek) episode ever filmed. Proving the old adage that all you need is two good actors and a great script and you can produce magic, this proves the dramatic weight of focussing on the Bajoran/Cardassian war better than any other episode. It keeps you guessing throughout and ends on a dramatic high. Amazing.

In the Hands of the Prophets is the climax the series needed with some powerful dialogue and useful wrapping up of themes running through the episode. There is a lovely feeling of moving on to new pastures that is essential to keep interest in the show. Its also an intruiging mystery with a beautifully shot action climax.

Season One of Deep Space Nine, flawed but fascinating and full of possibilities...
Dab Brill - Tue, Oct 23, 2007 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
I watched the first season of DS9 a year and a half ago. I loved Emmisary and some of the other eps in this season, but In the Hands of the Prophets was the episode that made me a diehard fan. After that, I was totally hooked.
Graham Pilato - Mon, Oct 29, 2007 - 4:24pm (USA Central)
I agree with Joe Ford, Jammer, about the Ferengi episodes... not all, but several, I think are much more underrated than they should be. There is (or... was... it's nearly 15 years on now from this season...) a big fan following for those characters, but the greatness of the DS9 Ferengi world-building and world-deepening comes from the first season, and that was the main reason I fell for DS9 in its first year back in 1993. It was a much bigger and better developed world, a hundred times deeper than anything that was established in Star Trek up to this point, with the possible exception of the Klingons on TNG. Four DS9 Ferengi episodes in particular, I think, are just horribly underrated: The Nagus, Rules of Acquisition, Family Business, and Body Parts. A great Ferengi episode per season in the first four years of the show. Each of these episodes deepens things tremendously and, while maybe not a huge collection of big laughs, they're utterly true to the established characters and well played out. I cared more about Rom and Quark through the first five years of the show than just about any other character besides Odo and Kira.

It's the aliens who get well developed in sci-fi.

That was a key difference, of course, in DS9, that so many non-Federation, weird and unscrupulous people were about, with totally different cultures of their own that persisted for longer than one or two episodes of sterile, clinical investigation on the bland Enterprise or Voyager.

Of course, In the Hands of the Prophets then pulled all the political tension together so nicely, that a brilliant second season would succeed this hesitant, uncertain first. I think
Jayson - Wed, Feb 13, 2008 - 6:28pm (USA Central)
Well, I’ve never really gone though the series or any of the seasons episode and reviewed them but Joe Ford has inspired me so here are my mini reviews.

Emissary - Out of every Star Trek series to date this episode is the best introduction of the world and the people who live in it. Ironically enough for me this episode has only gotten better over the years because of how it evolved over the course of seven years. Who knows, maybe the prophets had something do with it. I suppose for me the interesting thing to watch is the first time we meet Nog as a thief and considering where he ends up its a lot of fun to watch.

Past Prologue - There isn’t much to say about this episode except that it does mark the first appearance of Andrew J. Robinson AKA our favorite plain and simple tailor. Though I have to admit Garak is a much better character in the episode “Cardasians”. Btw, is it just me or does Garak seem to be hitting on Dr. Bashir from the get go, I leave it to others to think what you will of that.

A Man Alone - Like “Past Prologue” there isn’t a lot here but I did like the idea of creating a clone of your self only to murder it with the intention of framing someone, color me naïve but it struck me as pretty clever. Now, my main quibble with this episode is we don’t get a final scene when Ibundan’s clone (presumably) fully matures. I always thought there should have been scene between Odo and the clone where the clone doesn’t know who Odo.

Babel - Now I thought this was a really fun and original episode & I have to say this is the first episode that Kira as a character really worked for me. Also, there is great scene when Quark has to transport Odo off the station and just as Quark is transporting Odo he quickly reveals how only ever “watched” a transporter being used. Now given Quark is Quark I imagine he knew how to use a transporter but he just getting at Odo, just one of great jabs to come.

Captive Pursuit - This was the first of many great O’Brien episodes. I’m hard pressed to think of any other Starfleet officers that break all the rules and make it feel more convincing than contrived. Though I do wish we had met Tosk again later in the series maybe on the run from the Jem’Hadar but alas we never did.

Q-Less - Much to my surprise this was a bit of let down considering how entertaining Q can be but given all his appearances on VOY maybe Q was really a TNG thing that just didn’t translate well beyond the Enterprise D. But that’s not say Q doesn’t get in a few good ones like when Sisko hits him in a boxing match “Picard never hit me” “I’m not Picard” or when makes Bashir very tired and as he staggers away “Go sleep with your self for a change”

Dax - I can’t really say why but this wasn’t a particularly interesting episode and I’ll just leave it at that.

The Passenger - Ok, I’ll say it right off the bat, this episode is only ever going to be remember for Alexander Siddig’s almost comical over the top portrayal as a villain. Lets all be grateful he never attempted that again.
Move Along Home - I thought this was pretty fun and over all cool episode. The first thing I thought of when its revealed that the crew are actually and laterally “pawns” in this game were human beings used as a chess pieces which always makes me laugh. Also, this episode ends with a great line “Its only a game” which I suppose is good advice any time you start taking something too seriously.

The Nagus - Ah, the first of many really good Ferengi episodes and who better to play the head of The Ferengi alliance than Wallace Shaw, just about every line from him is comic gold. But beyond that this episode I think finally makes the Ferengi very real and the representation of something humanity in the 24th century has evolved out of.

Vortex - If there is only one reason this episode doesn’t work for me is because I don’t think the clues of Odo, his people and origins are nearly as tantalizing but to be fair I don’t really think the writers knew where they were going with that story line. In hind sight I wish Odo’s changeling key had made another appearance.

Battle Lines - I have to say this is another good episode for Kira (they keep getting better) because this is where she finally starts facing those demons and begins to evolve into the character we would all come to know and love. Now, again like other forgotten story threads I wish Kai Opaka would have brought back other than in visions or just a passing mention.

The Storyteller - I have to agree with Joe Ford in that this episode is hard to watch because Bashir and Obrien haven’t become friends yet and their friendship is a hi-light of DS9. That being said I liked the idea of belief being a very literal and powerful weapon against something hostile.

Progress - Now, here is the first really big Kira centric episode of the season and I think it works well but not nearly as well as “Duet”. Kira in this episode seems to be thinking things over rather facing them head on.

If Wishes Were Horses - Of all the fun light-weight episodes this season this one is only second to “Dramatis Persona” I think I like this episode mainly because the idea of powerful non-corporeal aliens who are just exploring is an appealing and rare notion in Star Trek. I think there was a missed opportunity in this episode in that we never got see Sisko playing baseball with Buck Bokai. On one final note the funniest part of the episode is when we see Odo’s fantasy is to have Quark locked up. Maybe not all the surprising a revelation but Odo’s little laugh at his own imagination coming to life cracks me up every time.

The Forsaken - I can’t really say much about this one so I won’t, moving along…

Dramatis Personae - I freely admit out of the first season this is my favorite light-weight episode. This episode has a lot of fun using all the characters in new ways just for one episode though not nearly as good as “Our man Bashir” or even remotely close to “Far Beyond The Stars” but still very entertaining. I particularly like Sisko’s alternate personality who if you slapped an eye patch on him, gave him a parrot then put him on pirate ship he would have been perfectly at home. One other thing, I did like that the alien influence was never fully explained but not that it probably would have had a creditable explanation anyway. Btw the thing that Sisko the pirate builds can still be seen in his office through out the series.

Duet - Ok, now this was the first and best Kira episodes of the series but ironically I can’t say specifically why its so good. The closest I can come to an explanation are most of the scenes between Kira and Marritza / Gul Darheel. Beyond that I think episode is so full of passion its impossible to nail down what actually works and what doesn’t. Simply put it’s a stellar episode that is almost as good as “Far Beyond The Stars”

In the Hands of the Prophets - This episode is what I really think separates DS9 from the rest of Star Trek in its ability to handle religion with out feeling preachy or over bearing. To me what The Bajoran’s believe seems very credible and real to me which is a credit to the writers. I think by the end of this episode its not really summing up the relationship between The Federation or Bajor but rather it comes down to the understanding of two people, Kira and Sisko. These are two characters who started out on virtually different sides but now are coming together. Besides Obrien and Bashir Kira and Sisko is one of the best and most important relationships in the series.


Dan - Wed, Jul 23, 2008 - 8:33am (USA Central)
Revisited the early seasons on both Cable TV and with my Christmas Present Box Set.
I can safetly say that the first season of DS9 has aged very well. Especially when you look you compare it to TNG's first season.
Like TNG this got better and better as time went on. Even my Dad who has been a Trek fan since the 60's conceeds that this is the best Trek series of the lot.
Nic - Mon, Sep 28, 2009 - 8:43pm (USA Central)
I wouldn't call DS9's freshman season "surprisingly good." It was definitely better than TNG's first season, but not as good as Voyager's. The pilot is very good at introducing the characters but nothing much of relevance happens and a lot of time is spent on Sisko explaining mundane things like baseball to the wormhole aliens.
I also disliked "Vortex", not just because Odo lets a murderer go free (which contradicts his sens of "justice" in the rest of the series) but especially because it promised to reveal information about his species but copped out at the last minute. I also thought Opaka staying behind in "Battle Lines" made no sense, other than the writers needed a character to die so we would 'find out' about the nanoprobes. However, this can be forgiven as it gave us the fantastic character of Kai Winn.
I'll admit "Duet" is still one of my favourite episodes, but the one I think you most underrated is "Dramatis Personae." This is the kind of fun you usually can't have with the characters until the third season, and it was nice to see this crop up so early in the series.
And THANK GOD Jake and Nog's annoying antics, which reminded me of Wesley Crusher, slowly faded away after this season.
Dave F - Sun, Apr 17, 2011 - 7:41pm (USA Central)
So I have been re-watching DS9 since the beginning, because when it first aired there was quite a few episodes that I missed. Growing up I enjoyed TNG and Voyager a lot more - and I still do. The great thing about Star Trek is that there is such a variety and so many fans we can all like different things. While I love DS9, I enjoyed TNG or Voyager more.

The first season: I enjoyed it quite a bit. There was some wild swings in quality and a few dogs ("Babel" and "The Storyteller") but every first season is going to have get the kinks out of the show. While it is not fair to judge TNG's 6th season versus DS9's 1st season, since they aired during the same year I must say TNG's 6th season was far superior. It's not fair because TNG was running at warp drive by that point and this show was just starting. DS9's first season was much more structured than TNG's 1st season, as the writers knew what to avoid. Most of the stories were well thought out and allowed the characters to grow in a universe that was different than TNG, but still within the Federation.

The characters were given life and proper backstories and were definitely not copies of TNG or TOS. The actors were all quite enjoyable too. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy Bashir that much, and while he was never my favorite character I do like the journey his character took as he matured throughout the show. It was awful that Garak only appeared once this season! I for one thought that Garak should have been promoted to a regular character.

Would I recommend this season? Yes. Is it excellent? No. As a Star Trek fan I enjoyed it, but it was not my favorite season of Star Trek by far, but it set up the premise for some excellent episodes that were to come both in this season and in the future.

1) Emissary: *** -> An excellent premiere that set everything up quite nicely. The storyline was engaging and the introduction to DS9 and the wormhole was handled quite well. I did *not* like the way Sisko treated Picard (I understood the intentions by the writers) as it left a bad taste in my mouth as I was loyal to Picard. All of the characters received enough screen time for me to enjoy the new show.

2) Past Prologue: *** -> I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. The storyline moved swiftly and confidently and having this episode about Kira was a smart move. The character is brought to life by Nana Visitor in a terrific way. The Duras sisters was a great touch for Trek fans, in that why this is a different show - it's still Star Trek.

3) A Man Alone: ** 1/2 -> I enjoyed it more than other people. I thought it was a clever ending in that he killed a clone of himself to frame Odo. I love Odo, but I thought the way the Bajorans turned on him so fast (especially since he tried to be fair during the Occupation) was a little forced. An average hour, but enjoyable nonetheless.

4) Babel: * 1/2 -> Why do all Trek series have to do a "disease episode" in the first season? This was awful. The entire "babeling" got old fast and even the somewhat exciting "action" ending couldn't get past the 35 minutes it took dragging to get there.

5) Captive Pursuit: *** -> A great O'Brien episode. It gives the Gamma Quadrant a face: a scary face in that it's an unexplored dangerous place that we know nothing about. The Alpha and Beta Quadrants was pretty explored during the course of TNG's run so it was refreshing to see some real unchartered territory that does not know what the Federation is. I liked the contrast to TNG in how O'Brien "changed" the rules. I thought it was fair given the circumstances.

6) Q-Less: ** -> Medicore. I think it was a good thing Q never reappeared as this episode showed he did not fit with the DS9 crew at all. Seeing Vash was nice, but the story never really amounted to much. The line about the TNG crew figuring this stuff out was quite amusing....but it was interesting that the DS9 writers incorporated it.

7) Dax: *** 1/2 -> The first excellent episode of DS9. Jadzia was my favorite character of DS9 and this established just why and how she is so wise (and fun to watch on screen).

8) The Passenger: ** -> The first few acts were quite enjoyable and held my attention. However, it completely derailed in the last act. I enjoyed the action/science fiction premise but the ending was....bizarre. I hate to say this but Siddig's performance was absolutely horrendous and completely ruined the ending.

9) Move Along Home: ** -> The Gamma Qudadrant Ferengi? Average, but still it was nice to see the Gamma Quadrant explored. However, the whole "game" element got tiring fast especially as the aliens just repeated the same lines over and over.

10) The Nagus: *** -> The first Ferengi episode was quite good. However, howcome Rom was not reprimanded at the end? It was this gaping plot hole and made security look terrible on DS9. I'm sorry. He attempted murder, and something should have been done.

11) Vortex: *** 1/2 -> Giving clues to Odo's existence was the correct idea. It gave us some answers to keep our attention but enough to bring up new questions. A great hour that held my attention with some great special effects.

12) Battle Lines: *** -> An enjoyable episode that was not terrific but watchable. It was a good premise, and by having Kai Opaka stay on the planet to bring peace I thought was interesting, because of the possibilities that it brought up for Bajor as while a great character was not going to cause any trouble for Sisko.

13) The Storyteller: * -> This episode was horrendous! I was not a fan of the Jake/Nog B-stories of the early seasons, but when that is a highlight you've got issues. The A-story, while at least gave us a glimpse of the excellent friendship of Bashir and O'Brien. The plotline of a mythical energy being fed off by emotions was laughable. Thankfully it was never revisited.

14) Progress: *** -> A nice hour that had to occur. It showed Kira maturing and realizing Bajor needs to make some changes if it wants a brighter future. That meant sacrifices, and I thought while this episode dragged a bit it was a still enjoyable story. The B-story was basically a repeat of the previous week.

15) If Wishes Were Horses: * 1/2 -> Everyone think good thoughts and this episode might improve! It was bizarre that nobody seemed to care about their "impending doom" because of the anomaly so any jeopardy was non-existent as it seemed everyone just thought it was a regular day at the office.

16) The Forsaken: *** -> An enjoyable hour, that showcases that I must be the only person who loves Lwaxana! I think she's a hoot! I actually loved the Odo/Lwaxana pair because the acting and characterization was quite amusing to watch. The ending was quite touching.

17) Dramatis Personae: ** -> Another spatial anomaly to let the characters-not-be-themselves and it left me with a mediocre feeling. The storyline took forever to get going, but once it did it least became somewhat interesting as the premise of an ancient power struggle was interesting. Excitement was lacking here though.

18) Duet: **** -> A DS9 masterpiece but I think we all know that. Terrific story. Terrific acting. For a show that had no action it was a completely engrossing. Absolutely excellent.

19) In the Hands of the Prophets: *** 1/2 -> DS9 ends its first season on a high note. Action and political intrigue blended nicely into a very believable hour. Louise Fletcher is a wonderful addition to the cast. The storyline I thought exploited the premise of Bajor confronting the future in a profound and realistic way, that was not forced at all. The crew came off really well in this episode, and I thought it was a great ending to make people come back for the second season.
grumpy_otter - Fri, Jun 28, 2013 - 9:06pm (USA Central)
I liked this, but not quite as much as Jammer. I was very excited by the beginning and thought this would be a science/religion conflict exploration.

Instead it became politically correct and pointed out that the religious crazies are the only ones to fear while the moderately religious are just fine, when any level of religious thinking is a contradiction of reason.

Sisko's conversation with Jake was the typical type of appeasement that has been given to the irrationality of religion for far too long.

I did enjoy it all right--just not as much as I thought I would. Keiko rocked in her refusal to compromise--I wish the episode had been more about that simple conflict rather than having to bring in a murder.

And after all these years, Nurse Ratched can still make me shudder. She is scary--perhaps most so when she is pretending to be nice.
T'Paul - Mon, Jul 1, 2013 - 9:24am (USA Central)
The religion/science debate is pretty run of the mill in my opinion, but for me what really stands out here is the foreshadowing of Winn's character and personality, which as we know become key later in the series...

It's interesting to see how she's consistent from the very beginning, how she says "I'd love to look into the prophets' eyes" (or words to that effect)
azcats - Wed, Sep 11, 2013 - 3:01pm (USA Central)
I dont know if DS9 did a good job with Vedek Winn or not? because, i absolutedly hated her. i am not sure because it was done on purpose or because it was done poorly? i mean, dukat was a villain and i liked him. but maybe, Winn is a villain in her own. but man...she drove me nuts.

this is an example of one of the few times that the A and B plots intertwine. and they do a great job. the mystery and detective work was fascinating.

heck, the science vs religion was just a way to move the plot along, and it too was great.

and iloved the conversation between sisko and jake.

Snitch - Mon, Oct 14, 2013 - 8:57pm (USA Central)
These kinds of problems with the religious Taliban is still prevalent even in the USA. With Winn they further detail Winn as a perfect villainous character that I always enjoyed.

3 1/2 stars
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 2:15pm (USA Central)

Not a bad episode considering it is focused on the Bajoran storyline.

5/10
Dusty - Thu, Feb 13, 2014 - 1:47am (USA Central)
I didn't find the Bajoran stuff in DS9 very absorbing--until 'Duet', and this episode. Vedek Winn immediately looks like one of the most dangerous antagonists on the show, because she's a wolf in sheep's clothing. She hides behind religion, knowing Sisko can't deal with her as she deserves without compromising Federation and Bajoran relations. Her fanaticism and disregard for Sisko's role were evident as well. I also respected Keiko's character for the first time (her painful acting aside). This was the kind of religious and political intrigue that previous ST shows wouldn't have touched, and it put DS9 a cut above everything else. An oustanding finale to a rocky but promising first season.
Dave in NC - Fri, May 30, 2014 - 3:07am (USA Central)
A multiple female character episode. I guess on Star Trek it goes unnoticed, but serious dramas with such strong female performances? It's not as common as some people think.

Anyways, a few notes:

1) When Winn talks about being admonished by Kai Opaka for wanting to see the prophets for herself, Kai Opaka told her she should sit in darkness and pray for atonement. I flashed ahead to the final season.

I think it was interesting that Winn ended up sending both Ranjen and Dukat to their own darknesses, yet in the end she only got to see the Pah Wraiths. I like the suggestion that Opaka had already glimpsed the future in a vision of the Prophets.

2) I liked Keiko taking a stand on not teaching the Bajoran religion in her class. I agree. Schools should teach facts, not uninformed mumbo-jumbo. However . . .

3) Since day one Keiko has been portrayed as a passive-aggressive antagonist to Miles, so I did get a perverse pleasure out of seeing both Vedek Winn and the ever-sassy Kira put her in her place. (I lol'd when Kira called her "Mrs. O'Brien" in a sing-songy tone.)

4) while it was very entertaining, the murder plot really was unnecessary. I would have been just fine with the episode continuing to go in a philosophical direction (An arbitration by a unbiased 3rd party perhaps?) There are so many ideas about superstition vs science that could have been explored.

Then again, this was a season finale. There are certain expectations and social commentary isn't one of them.

I'd give this 3 stars, not the best plot: but superior characterizations and strong performances abound.


Dave in NC - Fri, May 30, 2014 - 3:12am (USA Central)
Really, this is a must view in terms of the plotlines that develop over the rest of the show.

Not the best episode, but truly essential viewing.
Robert - Fri, May 30, 2014 - 8:56am (USA Central)
I actually see the murder plot as a darker social commentary. Without too much to a IRL political discussion most IRL politics is informed by votes and not by beliefs. As a liberal it's my opinion that most conservatives don't give a damn about gay marriage and abortion but if you whip religious types into a fever pitch it'll get people to the polls. It's my opinion that if Roe was ever overturned a lot of Republicans would be crying into their pillows because their "get religious types to the polls free" card would be spent.

As I said though, I don't want to paint this as an IRL political discussion or even to place judgement on non politicians. I'm sure many conservatives think liberals are only pretending to care for minorities/poor people to get votes for instance, it flows both ways.

To hop back to my original analogy though... looking at Vedek Winn through a lens of 7 seasons of knowledge... she never cared a bit about what Keiko was teaching in the school. Her rant about the wormhole aliens/prophets wasn't that of a true believer... it was to drum up support from true believers (like Neela). Winn is even said to come from a conservative sect. So she picks a pet issue to whip religious types into a fervor about and then uses them to advance her political agenda. It's a BRILLIANT condemnation on conservative politics and how non believers wield true believers to do their bidding.

It touches on the evolution in schools bit, it goes back to Galileo, it's the beginning of Winn's arc, it touches on the fact that dismissing your opponent's views outright makes you a fanatic for the other side as it softens Sisko's thinking of the aliens as prophets (To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?), it touches on religious hypocrisy (VENDOR: Seek the Prophets. ODO: Seek them yourself.).

You could hear echoes of bombing abortion clinics in it...

"SISKO: The Prophets had nothing to do with what happened here today. This was the work of a disturbed and violent mind who listened to your voice, not the Prophets."

It's easily in my top 10 episodes of DS9. And it caps the season REALLY nicely for a finale.

"KIRA: Commander, I heard what you said to Vedek Winn at the school. I just wanted you to know you were right what you said about the Bajorans, at least about me. I don't think you're the devil.
SISKO: Maybe we have made some progress after all."

I've always wondered why this episode doesn't make more favorite lists. It's brilliant. And coming after Duet and before the Circle Trilogy... some people say DS9 took off in it's 3rd year (with the Defiant) and some say it took off in it's 4th year (with the Klingon war) but these 5 episodes are where it went from pleasing fluff to must see TV.
Robert - Fri, May 30, 2014 - 10:10am (USA Central)
Oh, and not to mention... it does all of that and never feels very preachy. Especially given Sisko's room for all philosophies speech and the fact that by the end of the series he is a truer believe than Winn. Emissary may be the anchor point for the series bible, but this episode grounds/informs literally everything that comes after.
Paul - Fri, May 30, 2014 - 1:49pm (USA Central)
@Robert: I agree that this episode is underrated, but I think I know why it is ...

DS9 was still sort of finding its way in the first season. The only two characters who were sort of synched up at this point were Kira and O'Brien. All the others change a great deal over the next season.

Also, while this was a good episode, it wasn't what most people had come to expect from Star Trek at the time. That can be said for a lot of DS9, but the good stuff in that category in the early days was still sort of hard to figure out.

Frankly, I think DS9 found its footing in season two with the Maquis two-parter, and the series was strong -- aside from most Ferengi episodes -- for the next several seasons, peaking at the end of season five and in the first six episodes of season six. The seventh season was uneven at the beginning, but ended fairly well.

What's interesting is that episodes like this one echoed throughout the series run, but a lot of the first season and second season material -- random encounters with people from the Gamma Quadrant, more of the day-to-day life on the station, Keiko's school -- were sort of wiped away.
Dave in NC - Fri, May 30, 2014 - 11:15pm (USA Central)
After reading the comments above, I'm rewatching the episode.

Some stray observations as I watch:

Opening scene: Keiko is mean to Miles, as usual. I would have taken that Jumjum stick and dropped it on the floor and walked away.

Classroom scene: At first I thought "How coincidental" Winn walks in right right as Keiko is teaching about the wormhole, but then I realized spying has never been something Winn had a problem with.

Kira and Keiko meet with Sisko: I've got to take Keiko's side. Teaching scientifically verifiable facts isn't a philosophy. Sorry, Kira.

Sisko at the temple with Winn: Can she really tell if people don't believe in the prophets by touching their ears?

Anyways, I get the feeling that Winn genuinely believes it is disrespectful not to teach about the prophets, but yes, she is taking advantage of the situation by fanning the "orthodox" flames.

Miles and Keiko can't buy a jum-ja stick: Reminds me of Mississippi making it legal to refuse service to gay people. Obviously, it doesn't change anyone's minds.

Winn with the crowd in front of the school: Winn does her Machiavellian thing by setting her up in front of the crowd, making it look as if she is the "reasonable" one and Keiko is the zealot, but I don't buy that for a second. Not teaching scientific fact because it doesn't agree with a spiritual belief is ridiculous.

If I were Keiko, I would have said "I'll pencil the Prophets in right between the Divine Treasury and Stovokor."

Sisko and Jake talk: Sisko tries to justify the Bajoran spiritual beliefs, but I'm sorry, there's no reason to take a rationally explainable thing and insert spirituality into it.

I was always of the opinion that the Prophets were highly evolved future Bajorans who decided to live outside of time, hence them saying "We are of Bajor".

Sisko at Bareil's garden: Wherever they filmed this, it is a BEAUTIFUL place.

Bareil explaining the fracturing in the Vedek Assembly reminded me of the Catholic bishops voting for a new Pope. And while Bareil gives off that "holy vibe", he shows his flaws when she let's slip his ambition to be Kai.

Sisko and Kira talk at ops: Kira's not being fair to Sisko when he asks her for some support. She IS his first officer, and it is totally inappropriate for her to support a "sick-out" amongst the station crew. Her philosophy comment was way off base.

The crew discusses Aquino's murder: A short scene, but it wasn't really necessary. The next scene with Miles and the Bajoran assistant covers the same information with effortless humanity and character development. By the way, Miles should have said yes. ;)

The Odo scenes with Miles: needless exposition, the killer was on pad A not pad C, blah blah.

School gets bombed: More on this in the final summary.

Sisko confronts Winn: he outright blames her when he has no actual evidence her nonsense caused the bombing. I would be very suspicious of her too, but calling her out on it? I wouldn't have done that. Image to some extent is reality, after all.

I definitely wouldn't have gotten into a passionate argument with her in front of a crowd of onlookers. That's not the appropriate way to put the Federation's best foot forward.

Winn meets with the Bajoran spy: talk about being fake- it is Winn's first time showing her true colors. The ends justify the means indeed.

Bariel meets the Kai: the seeds are sown for their dislike for each other in this, their first exchange. A well-acted scene. I definitely wish I could hear more of Bariel's speech supporting scientific research.

The attempted assassination scene is very well-done: the slow motion and the orchestral score are very effective, although the "Nooo!" yelled by Sisko was pretty cheesy.

Final thoughts:

I'm not sure if the parallel to conservatism is 100% accurate, simply because, unlike any religion on Earth, the Bajorans actually have some evidence their Gods exist. They have orbs, wormholes, and verifiable visions from the Prophets; we do not.

I do believe that Kai Winn believes in the Prophets existence, even if their motives are a complete mystery to her. I think she believes that if she gains enough importance, they will actually speak with her. After all, they chat with a human running a space station and he doesn't believe at all. She does this because of her CHARACTER, not because the script demanded an allegory.

So while I definitely think this episode was making some sly commentary that is obviously directed at fanatics, at it's core it was a character driven episode, not a moral-of-the-week.

I've revised my rating upwards to 3.5 stars. Rewatchability and world-building make this a true must-view.











Robert - Mon, Jun 2, 2014 - 8:58am (USA Central)
I'm not telling you she doesn't believe in the prophets, and I like your observation that she might be growing in power BECAUSE she wants to speak to them.

"I once asked Kai Opaka why a disbeliever was destined to seek the Prophets, and she told me one should never look into the eyes of one's own gods. I disagreed. I told her I would do anything to look into their eyes."

That actually does seem to inform her character for the entire series. Her character's descent into well, what she eventually become beings in S6 Rapture.

"WINN: Prophet, hear me. I am the Kai of Bajor. I offer myself to you as your humble servant,
KIRA: I await their vessel.
WINN: Speak to me. Tell me what I should do.
KIRA: ::silence::"

She's the Kai, and a prophet is standing in front of her and STILL won't talk to her. It's gotta seem pretty unfair from her perspective.

I don't mean she's not a believer of the prophets, but I saw it differently than you.

"KIRA: It was all to get him here, wasn't it? The school, the protests, the bombing. You knew that would get him out of the monastery. You did it all to kill him, to stop him from becoming Kai. "

I just got the feeling Kira hit the nail on the head. Winn never cared about the school. That's something Neela would care about. Winn just cared about power. I could be wrong of course, there's no way to read Winn's mind.

"I'm not sure if the parallel to conservatism is 100% accurate, simply because, unlike any religion on Earth, the Bajorans actually have some evidence their Gods exist. They have orbs, wormholes, and verifiable visions from the Prophets; we do not."

Sure, but since Winn has never spoken to the prophets (which you find out later in the series), the analogy still stands. Let's assume the Roman Catholic God exists, barring anyone who has actually spoken to him, who the hell are any of us to assume how he'd feel about gay people (to use an example)? I actually am somewhat religious, but I find it quite audacious that anyone tries to condemn someone based on a line in a multiply translated bible or based on their own knowledge of what "God wants". That's where I think the parallel works.

Sure, the prophets are real and they talk to Sisko... but the Bajorans fight over prophecy interpretations all the time. Kira and Bareil do. The prophecy in Destiny comes true (albeit differently than ANYONE interpreted). I guess I just think that what Winn wants is power and respect from her gods. Getting Keiko to stop teaching what some small sect considers blasphemy is just a way to wield fanatics like Neela... just like gay marriage is a way for politicians who probably aren't that upset about it to wield evangelicals. Again, I could be wrong though (about Winn and some politicians, I'm sure some are true believers).

Last thing before this gets ridiculously longer. "Miles and Keiko can't buy a jum-ja stick: Reminds me of Mississippi making it legal to refuse service to gay people."

I CONSTANTLY see echoes of current issues that didn't exist back then in DS9. It's one of the things that has caused the show to age so well for me.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 8:04am (USA Central)
"JAKE: How could anyone be so stupid?
SISKO: It's easy to look back seven centuries and judge what was right and wrong.
JAKE: But the same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb.
SISKO: No, it's not. You've got to realize something, Jake. For over fifty years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian occupation was their faith. The Prophets were their only source of hope and courage.
JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious?
SISKO: My point is, it's a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you'll be acting just like Vedek Winn, Only from the other side. We can't afford to think that way, Jake. We'd lose everything we've worked for here"

Militant atheists and zealots could learn a lesson here.

I think this episode should be shown in schools (high school and college) and be the basis for outstanding discussion with the students.

4 out of 4 stars for me. Right below "Duet" in my DS9 S1 rankings.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 8:07am (USA Central)
Sorry, by post was cut short. Here's the whole thing.

What a great S1 closer. This episode completely set the tone for the next 6 years of DS9 and did it very well.

I've read all the great comments above (great discussion) and have a couple things to say.

I never for one second thought that KIA winn was a true believer, never. My justification for this is - can you for a second see KIA Opaka resorting to the immoral/illegal acts that Winn did to gain and retain the KIA position? I think the answer to that is a resounding no. Opaka was a true religious leader in the best sense of the word and Winn was a wannabe that had no moral compass and only wanted power.

This episode DOES depict extremes. Religious extremists existed here long before 911. I love how this episode depicts politicians for what they are. They will fire up whatever group they need to achieve their goals (or win elections). Even Vedic Berial understands that in order for him to make change, he needs to win the KIA election and he knows that if he comes off as extreme he has no chance to win. So he plays the game. I'm sure the same goes on electing the Pope and I know it goes on in politics. They are all forced to play the game, regardless of intentions. And, as we see in politics here, Sisko and Berial took advantage of a "crisis" to play their angle too. (even though Winn set it up) So politics is politics, regardless of whether you're a "true believer" or not.

We have had the "Evolution vs Intelligent Design" war here for 50 years. This episode brings to light that dilemma in trek (for the first time I believe).

Aside from his delivery, I love Sisko's speech to the crowd. Just because the Federation doesn't create policy and educate based on religious beliefs, doesn't make them "the devil".

Keiko... what a b@##$#@$@#. Obrien should have definitely said YES!! :-) I do agree with her stance on teaching the facts and commend her for not wavering. I do think she could have brought out that the Bajoran beliefs would be taught in another class. (maybe she did, I can't remember)

I personally thought the best part and most important part of the entire episode was Sisko's exchange with Jake:

"JAKE: How could anyone be so stupid?
SISKO: It's easy to look back seven centuries and judge what was right and wrong.
JAKE: But the same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb.
SISKO: No, it's not. You've got to realize something, Jake. For over fifty years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian occupation was their faith. The Prophets were their only source of hope and courage.
JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious?
SISKO: My point is, it's a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you'll be acting just like Vedek Winn, Only from the other side. We can't afford to think that way, Jake. We'd lose everything we've worked for here"

Militant atheists and zealots could learn a lesson here.

I think this episode should be shown in schools (high school and college) and be the basis for outstanding discussion with the students.

4 out of 4 stars for me. Right below "Duet" in my DS9 S1 rankings.
Robert - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 10:46am (USA Central)
"Keiko... what a b@##$#@$@#. Obrien should have definitely said YES!! :-) I do agree with her stance on teaching the facts and commend her for not wavering. I do think she could have brought out that the Bajoran beliefs would be taught in another class. (maybe she did, I can't remember)"

I think the issue is that she will not teach Bajoran beliefs as truth.

I learned about many religions in my social studies classes growing up, but I was never taught that any of it was true. I'm SURE Keiko would have no issues editing the curriculum to explain that Bajorans believe the wormhole aliens are prophets, but I doubt that would satisfy the people who were annoyed by her class.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 11:24am (USA Central)
@ Robert - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 10:46am (USA Central)

I think the issue is that she will not teach Bajoran beliefs as truth.

I learned about many religions in my social studies classes growing up, but I was never taught that any of it was true. I'm SURE Keiko would have no issues editing the curriculum to explain that Bajorans believe the wormhole aliens are prophets, but I doubt that would satisfy the people who were annoyed by her class.
=========================================

Exactly. More specifically "scientific truths". I had to go back to the transcript.

Winn was adamant that the prophets be included and Keiko was opposed:

WINN: I feel your anger toward me, and I forgive you for it. Mrs O'Brien, if I've misjudged you, I am terribly sorry. Have I? Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?
KEIKO: No.

It appears that Social Studies is a thing of the past.

Keiko does have the right idea here:

"KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no."

But not to teach that folks have religious affiliations/beliefs and the role it plays in society is wrong IMO.

Like I said, it's the classic "Evolution v ID" battle. Neither side wants to budge.
Robert - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 11:33am (USA Central)
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, I didn't read any of that into this.

"KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets."

Keiko is MORE than willing to mention Bajoran spiritual beliefs in her classroom, but Winn wants her to put weight behind it. Keiko is not willing to say it's true, but only that it's what Bajor believes.

"KEIKO: Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through
WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking."

Again, Winn doesn't want her to expose the children TO the Bajoran religion, she wants her to teach the Bajoran religion as truth.

"KEIKO: Perhaps we should discuss this after class.
WINN: Do you believe the Celestial Temple of the Prophets exists within the passage?
KEIKO: I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does."

I hear no unwillingness to discuss Bajoran spiritual beliefs here, she's just not willing to teach them as truth. Growing up I was exposed to religious beliefs in social studies classes but I was taught that those beliefs were true in my Sunday school. I see nothing in this text to assume Keiko would not be willing to have the same arrangement.

"WINN: But that's not what you teach.
KEIKO: No, I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs. That's your job. Mine is to open the children's minds to history, to literature, to mathematics, to science."

She does mention it's her job to open the children's minds to history. I assume that when they get to Bajoran history, Bajoran religion will be covered, just as I learned about the Shinto religion when my social studies teacher covered Japan.

I guess the point I'm trying to make here is that every time Keiko tried to reach out to Winn halfway

"KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets."

"KEIKO: I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does."

That wasn't good enough. Keiko KNEW that Winn needed her to say that the ships pass through safely guided by the prophets hands (which we learn is true in season 6 :P) in order to be satisfied. Exposing the kids to Bajoran beliefs is NOT what Winn was looking for here.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 12:07pm (USA Central)
@ Robert.

I quote transcripts that prove my point and you say we have to agree to disagree?

You quote the exchange that occurred after Winn entered the classroom. Knowing how Keiko responded to Winn in the promenade can you honestly say that Keiko would have called the worm-hole aliens "prophets" in her class had KIA Winn not been there? No, you can't. Keiko was only responding to Winn's prodding after she was put on the spot in front of her students.

You can believe she would have covered that in history class, but that's pure speculation. Nothing in this episode would indicate she would. Much to the contrary. What part of "No" don't you get?

I had social studies too, but remember, this is the 24th century Federation. Religion is frowned upon, made a spectacle of and shunned by Star Fleet and the Federation. (as we've seen many times in trek)

Keiko had the opportunity to "reach out" in the promenade, and she emphatically said no. Twice.
Elliott - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 12:11pm (USA Central)
@Robert and Yanks:

I actually agree with both of you. Yanks is right about the Federation's attitude about religion and Robert is right that this episode paints Keiko out to be tolerant and even accommodating of Bajoran bullshit. Keiko's response to Winn should have been, "Why don't you get the hell out of my classroom before I call security?"
Andy's Friend - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 12:35pm (USA Central)
@Yanks:

The exchange you quote does NOT prove your point:

WINN: [...] Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?
KEIKO: No.

...merely means just that: Keiko is saying "No" to the Prophets as Prophets, not as wormhole aliens. This becomes totally evident in context. And as this is a series with some continuity, and we happen to know Keiko as a serious woman of science, there is nothing to support your claim that:

"You can believe she would have covered that in history class, but that's pure speculation. Nothing in this episode would indicate she would. Much to the contrary. What part of "No" don't you get?"

I'm saying Robert got the part of "No" that you didn't. No to Prophets, Yes to wormhole aliens worshipped by Bajorans.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 1:00pm (USA Central)
@ Andy's Friend

That's speculation and semantics on your part.

I just watched the episode last night. She only acknowledged Bajoran religious beliefs when confronted and when asked directly, she emphatically said no.

If she had any intention on including them in her school, don't you think the prudent answer, infront of everyone, in defense of her school would have been "Yes, in our social sciences (or something) class?

She teaches that there are wormhole aliens and that the wornhole it was artificially constructed and it was formed by unique particles called verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. She believes it's her job to open the children's minds to history, to literature, to mathematics, to science... That's what she was teaching before Winn showed up. Now if it makes you feel better, you can include religion in history or literature. But there is nothing in this episode that would indicate she would. As you said, she’s a woman of science.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 1:07pm (USA Central)
@ Elliott

I'll disagree. She was only tolerant when it was expedient. When she had a chance to prove it, she didn't.

But as to Winn's classroom interruption, that's exactly what I thought when I watched this episode.

KIA Winn enters classroom without permission.

Keiko: "Excuse me? May I help you?"

Winn: "Hello child..."

Keiko: "Carry your holy ass out of my classroom!"

LOL
Robert - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 1:27pm (USA Central)
"You quote the exchange that occurred after Winn entered the classroom. Knowing how Keiko responded to Winn in the promenade can you honestly say that Keiko would have called the worm-hole aliens "prophets" in her class had KIA Winn not been there? No, you can't. Keiko was only responding to Winn's prodding after she was put on the spot in front of her students."

Honestly, yes. That's how I read the scene. I agree with Andy's Friend... when when says "Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?" she's asking the same as a Catholic person would be asking a teacher "Isn't there a place in your school for God?" And that question does NOT MEAN in a Social Studies sense. She's asking a MUCH MORE loaded question than you are giving it credit for.
Robert - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 1:31pm (USA Central)
"As you said, she’s a woman of science."

Perhaps so, but it was a science lesson. Asking if there's room for the Prophets in a science lesson is like asking if there's room for God in a big bang lesson. The answer is that we can talk about God in Social Studies, but NOT in the way you'd like us to :)

Winn's question was loaded. I can demonstrate

"WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then?
WINN: We'll face those issues when we come to them.
KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no. "

This is proof positive that Winn's request was that Keiko teach about the prophets DURING the wormhole science lesson AND call them prophets. She was not asking for a secular viewpoint lesson on Bajoran religion in social studies class.

You may say I'm reading too much into Winn's dialogue, but I think you're reading things that are not there into Keiko's.
Andy's Friend - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 1:58pm (USA Central)
@Yanks: Yes, you're right that that would have been the prudent answer. But as we also know, Keiko has a temper. This is a classic example of giving a somewhat confrontational answer, rather than a diplomatic one, when facing someone whom we simply can't stand. Happens all the time.

I'm sure that the ever diplomatic Picard would have remained calm and collected and would have answered as you suggested. Keiko, also being true to character, answered as she did. It seems to me that you are basing your evaluation of Keiko as a teacher on that single answer to Winn. But that is mererely a perfectly reasonable expression of personal antipathy. Who can blame her? ;)

Like Elliott and you yourself just wrote, I would also have been somewhat harder on Winn than Keiko was. But that doesn't mean that I would neglect my duties as a teacher regarding the wormhole aliens. I'm betting that neither Elliott nor you would, either. And I'm betting that neither would Keiko.
Andy's Friend - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 2:26pm (USA Central)
@Robert:

You're quite right in your lasts comments. Of course Winn would like to see some sort of Bajoran Catechism be taught on DS9 ― your "Sunday school" example. And Keiko makes it clear ― as you quoted earlier ― that that is not her responsibility. There is of course a huge difference between saying "These wormhole aliens are worshipped by the Bajorans thus and thus," and saying "These are The Prophets, and the Celestial Temple is their heavenly abode. Their will be done." I'm pretty sure that Keiko wouldn't mind teaching the former. But Winn obviously wants her to teach the latter. And as Yanks points out, the answer to that is "No." It really is as simple as that.
Yanks - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 4:43pm (USA Central)
@ Robert and Andy's Friend.

Love the discussion here. Thanks for commenting.

I'll try one more time :-)

Keiko isn't a teacher by trade. She's a bored scientist (botanist if I remember correctly). Sisko and O'brien basically gave her something to do. They threw a scientist in the classroom; teaching kids of all ages to boot.

Robert is convinced that she would teach religion in her school. I'm deducing, from what we know and have seen she would not.

Twice she had the opportunity to demonstrate that she would teach such a curriculum.

The 1st when KIA Winn burst into her classroom.

"WINN: Excuse me. By entities, do you not mean the Prophets?
KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets. Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through

(note: "our studies")

WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking.
KEIKO: Perhaps we should discuss this after class.
WINN: Do you believe the Celestial Temple of the Prophets exists within the passage?
KEIKO: I respect that the Bajoran people believe that it does.
WINN: But that's not what you teach.
KEIKO: No, I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs. That's your job. Mine is to open the children's minds to history, to literature, to mathematics, to science."

(note: "I don't teach Bajoran spiritual beliefs")

Pretty clear there. Also a clear opportunity to say when and where they would cover that subject in her school. She clearly states that's not her job. If this was a subject matter covered in another class, this was the perfect time to tell her (and her Bajoran students). She did not.

The second is when she is addressed by KIA Winn in the promenade.

Without quoting the whole thing...

Winn: Is there a place in your school for the Prophets?
Keiko: No

WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then?

More opportunities to tell Winn that that subject matter is taught in this or that class.

Nothing.

I don't see how anyone can deduce that somehow a scientist, thrown into teaching job, that clearly indicates that teaching religion "is your job" would ever teach that the prophets even exist in her school. Now that I'm not saying that she would teach the kids that they aren't prophets, but she wouldn't cover the religious aspect.

In no way am I condoning that snake Winn's actions either. Someone earlier mentioned hate WRT to Winn and her character. That was my take from the start. It's actually very well written (and expertly played by Louise Fletcher) We are supposed to hate her. I can't count the times I wanted to see her schwacked. :-)
UnkownSample - Tue, Jun 24, 2014 - 11:34pm (USA Central)
I don't understand the bajorans. Someone tell me what the bajorans mean when they say these "prophets" are gods? It's been stated on the show that they believe they are Gods. But It has been acknowledged that these entities in the wormhole can be killed with weapons and Kira has acknowledged this a couple times when the aliens were in danger. Also there was an episode where Kira was talking about the prophets and Worf says he prefers Klingon beliefs. Kira then says "I suppose your gods aren't as cryptic as ours." Worf proceeds to tell her that the Klingons killed their Gods a millennia ago. Kira says she doesn't understand Klingons. So it's not like on earth today where the major religions believe there is a single
god who created the universe. It's as though each planet has their own Gods or what they consider Gods. It's not like Kira believes the prophets created the Klingons. So I don't understand why bajorans worship these aliens when they know they can be killed and they didn't even know about linear time. Sisko had to explain that to them. The same linear time in which the bajorans live. This is one of my main problems with Sisko and DS9. I love the show but Picard would never have risked his sons life to let aliens play out a battle on the station. He really does buy into bajorans beliefs when he knows these are aliens. Just like any other alien in Star Trek who presented themselves as Gods to a primitive planet. Kirk and Picard have met a few of those races. Keiko should have pointed out to Winn that the prophets could be killed with some Torpedos or Chroniton particles.
Robert - Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - 9:04am (USA Central)
@Yanks

I think we're having 2 different conversations in some ways.

"Robert is convinced that she would teach religion in her school. I'm deducing, from what we know and have seen she would not."

"I don't see how anyone can deduce that somehow a scientist, thrown into teaching job, that clearly indicates that teaching religion "is your job" would ever teach that the prophets even exist in her school. "

I'm not saying she would teach religion or that the prophets exist. I'm saying she would likely teach ABOUT religion. Since Bajor seems nearly a theocracy, they are orbiting Bajor and have a ton of Bajorans one assumes Bajoran history is on the menu at some point.

I don't believe Keiko would ever say the prophets exist. I don't believe Keiko would ever teach Bajoran religion. I think she eventually would get around to have a secular discussion about Bajoran religion.

I think Jake might have to write a report on the orbs some day, or some prophecy's that have had a great impact on the culture. All from an anthropological standpoint.

What I'm postulating is that Keiko did not offer this solution up to Vedek Winn because Winn WOULD NOT have accepted it.

I think this exchange says it perfectly...

"WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then? "

This is NOT, "could you please expose these children to the Bajoran faith in a secular way?"

This is "I would request that YOU NOT MENTION THE WORMHOLE unless you plan to teach it MY WAY". Keiko does not offer a compromise because Winn would never accept one. Also, as I said, I assume that Keiko would already be teaching Bajoran history, so there's nothing for her to offer.

TLDR Version - Keiko doesn't offer (in my opinion) to do a social studies class on Bajoran faith because she's probably already doing it and it's not what Winn wants anyway.
Jack - Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - 6:24pm (USA Central)
Quite an absurd plot contrivance that Vedek Winn just happened to barge into the classroom on the day they happened to be learning about the wormhole. But since that contrivance is the only thing that made the episode possible...
Dave in NC - Sat, Aug 23, 2014 - 11:40am (USA Central)
@ Jack

Coincidences DO happen, I suppose, but I think Winn doesn't do ANYTHING ahead of time without having the inside scoop AKA a spy.

Or maybe it's even simpler: one of the kids told their religious Bajoran parents they were going to be learning about the Prophets next week and word got around.

and to this:

Andy's friend said:
"Yes, you're right that that would have been the prudent answer. But as we also know, Keiko has a temper. This is a classic example of giving a somewhat confrontational answer, rather than a diplomatic one, when facing someone whom we simply can't stand. Happens all the time."

^
This is SO totally true. :)

The Keiko we all know would have told Winn not to enter the second the door started to open, but of course, then there would have been no show.
Robert - Tue, Aug 26, 2014 - 10:07am (USA Central)
We have an online syllabus in schools now. I'm pretty sure Winn just googled it.
Elliott - Tue, Aug 26, 2014 - 6:34pm (USA Central)
Teaser : ***, 5%

Keiko feigns the jealous wife bit, delivering a cute little scene with Miles (point for innuendo “be careful whom you share your Jum-Ja with”). She goes on to teach her class (about the same size as we saw it last in “The Nagus.” She's teaching them about the wormhole and its socio-political importance.

A Bajoran nun enters her room unannounced to “observe” and proceeds to interrupt her, insisting she use Bajoran mystical labels for the wormhole and the aliens who built it (“Celestial Temple” and “Prophets”). I wrote back in “Battle Lines” and “Progress” about how the Bajorans' faith is understandable given their history during the Occupation. One can appreciate the comfort it offers to a brutalised people. Understanding this however, does not excuse it. Just as we saw in “Duet,” understanding the Bajoran need for vengeance and hatred is also not an excuse for that behaviour. And here to remind us why is Louis Fletcher, AKA Vedek Bitchwhore.

Showing amazing restraint, Keiko acknowledges the Bajoran faith without negating it or embarrassing the Vedek. Bitchwhore continues to press and actually uses a Bajoran child as a kind of debate shield, holding his arm in that patronising, precious, holier-than-thou way while grinning through her teeth. Maintaining commendable composure (although, I think some anger is more than warranted, Mrs O'Brien), she suggests discussing the matter outside of the classroom. Ignoring her, Bitchwhore flat out asks her if she's accept the Prophets into her heart as her personal Lords and Saviours. Uck. Like all fundamentalists, Bitchwhore resorts to accusing Keiko of “blasphemy” and vows to shut down her school.

Although the substance of this scene is not sitting well, dramatically, this is well-focused and introduces a recurring villain with a credible charisma.

Act 1 : *, 17%

O'Brien and Neela demonstrate some cross-cultural comradeship and O'Brien notes that he's missing a tool, which is unusual for the usually meticulous tinkerer.

Meanwhile, Keiko meets with Sisko, who describes Bitchwhore's attitude as “inevitable.” Really? I don't recall you giving such a warning in “A Man Alone,” commander. He then goes on to lament the lack of “common ground” necessary to admit Bajor into the Federation. Huh? Common ground? We have always seen alien worlds eager and anxious to join the Federation (except for those that don't want to of course). The Federation has never attempted to realign or re-message itself in order to appeal to reluctant potential members. If the Bajorans don't want to give up their religious beliefs and allow their culture to evolve (one would think this would take a hell of a lot longer than the few months since you got here, Sisko), then they can remain independent.

Kira enters the conversation to undo the goodwill she built up in “Progress” and “Duet,” telling Keiko in that condescending know-it-all tone that betrays a singular close-mindedness that her curriculum should be “revised.” The director or someone has decided to stage this scene with Keiko showing hostility and anger while Kira keeps her calm and composure, thus artificially propping up Kira's more-or-less unjustifiable position as somehow reasonable, while making Keiko look hysterical just for adhering to the principle that a school is not the place to prosthelytise children into believing in magic. Kira suggests segregating the school (“a lot of Bajoran and Federation interests are separate”). Thanks, John Howard Ferguson.

And cue the strawman :
KEIKO : “I'm not teaching any philosophy!...”
KIRA : “Some would say teaching pure science without a spiritual context IS a philosophy, Mrs O'Brien.” [read with dripping condescension].

“Philosophy” is not the issue here; “agenda” is. Keiko's philosophy is to present ideas without a social or political bias, which in not way conflicts with Bajoran spirituality (if it did, then how could Neela work for O'Brien?). What Bitchwhore and Kira are suggesting is that science (and other disciplines) be taught with an *agenda* that promotes faith in the Prophets rather than leaving spiritual matters open for other contexts. If the writers had been honest, they would have put words to that effect in someone's mouth (Keiko, Sisko?), but no, we get more one-sided, pro-credulity, anti-Roddenberry bullshit in its stead.

Sisko has a chat with Bitchwhore in the Bajoran temple (we know it's a temple because there are candles and incense, duh). Let's flash back to “Who Watches the Watchers” and Picard's attitude towards being deified by the Mentakans, as Sisko has been deified by the Bajorans. In that episode, Picard was certainly horrified at the prospect of being a god, and expressed outrage in the company of his crew and the palaeontologist, but to the Mentakans themselves he was kind, but firm in his insistence that they not worship him. He did everything in his power to change that perception of himself including risk his own life. Compare that to Sisko's tepid “I wish you wouldn't call me that.” Grow a pair, Commander!

Opaka once commented to Bitchwhore, “One should never look into the eyes of one's own gods.” Okay, why not? What is the theological justification for this? From an in-Universe perspective, the “gods” have no trouble mucking around with people and covering Sisko in their cream of mushroom soup, or shipping Dax off in an hourglass. I'll tell you where this bullshit comes from; in real religions, this is a deflectionary tactic commonly used to explain the disparity between the apparently conversational and physically present deities in holy books and the absence of such presence in contemporary life. Oh, no it isn't that the people who wrote these books imagined these things or made them up, it's that *you* want to see them too badly! How dare you want things! Go say a prayer! And no masturbating!

Bitchwhore is nothing if unsympathetic, but her desire to see her own flipping gods should not be considered evidence to poor character. On the contrary, one should wish to see evidence for the things one believes in.

Wait a minute, Bitchwhore just said she had never seen nor spoken to the prophets, yet she claims that they “spoke to her through the Orbs” about her mission to disrupt Keiko's school. This isn't even a philosophical question of faith, but which the fuck is it? Have you spoken to them or not?

To me, Bitchwhore is portrayed rather complexly—her political ambition and dormant ruthlessness is apparent, but her skeptical and inquisitive mind are GOOD things. But the episode takes the side of baseless credulity, and thus she's “a bad guy.” She claims not to take responsibility for anything tragic which “might” happen to Keiko's school, because, you know, God did it.

Act 2 : ***, 17%

Meanwhile, O'Brien and Neela are on the hunt for his missing tool which is apparently some sort of skeleton key to every critical system on the station. Geez. Dax reports that an ensign is missing, while O'Brien and Neela discover an errant titanium signature which turns out to be O'Brien's missing tool and some “cooked” organic material. Uh-oh.

So, the O'Briens take a stroll for some Jum-ja sticks discussing the poor ensign's “accident” and the Bajoran merchant reveals that patented Bajoran idiocy last seen in “The Storyteller,” refusing to sell to the blasphemer or her husband. Odo gets the best line to the assbagging “Seek the prophets” the merchant calls out after them saying, “Seek them yourself.”

Bitchwhore has called forth a mob in front of her school, where she pulls a Mommy Dearest pointing to Keiko's holding to her convictions as unreasonable anti-faith stubbornness.

Keiko, in turn, becomes my hero in the line “I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them.” You go, girl. And like lemmings, ALL the Bajoran parents and their children leave the school en masse. Good riddance, I say.

Act 3 : **, 17%

The Ensign's odd accident points to evidence that something is amiss, and O'Brien suggests his death may not have been an accident at all. Jake arrives in Ops, for I think the first time. Keiko, ever my hero, taught the remaining students about Galileo and humanity's own troubled past in wriggling its way out from under the thumb of religion. With a beautiful simplicity, Jake notes the similarity between that case and the current drama between Keiko and Bitchwhore (if not for the massive bias the episode has against skeptical disbelief, I would point out that it's a bit presumptuous for Keiko to martyr herself this way). Jake points out that the whole thing is “dumb.”

SISKO : “No it's not. You've got to realise something, Jake. For over 50 years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian Occupation was their faith. The prophets were their only source of hope and courage.”

Granted, commander, but that doesn't change the fact the Bitchwhore's tirade against Keiko is fucking stupid. Well, actually, her motivations are laid bare later on and aren't so much stupid as manipulative, but what allows her manipulation to work is Bajoran stupidity, isn't it?

Sisko tries to cover his apologist ass by pointing out the the Prophets can see the future. First of all, writers, a prophet does not predict the future, that's an oracle. A prophet proclaims what is happening right now and how it fits a divine plan. Second of all, if that's all it takes to be considered a god, you'd better starting nailing statues of John de Lancie to wooden crosses right now.

“It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong.” So, are we claiming that Galileo's issue was that he had a different belief from the church authorities? That it was a matter of interpretation that the earth revolves around the sun? Great lesson, there!

“If you start to act that way, you'll be just like Vedek Winn, only from the other side.” That is the other deflectionary tactic that is often employed; all ideas are equally valid, therefore defending one or promoting one or deriding others is automatically wrong. Don't stop to think, folks, just drink the feel-good Koolaid. Kumbayah....

Sisko travels to Bajor (which looks surprisingly pristine for having been occupied so recently) to meet with a Vedek from a rival, less right-wing order of Wormholism, or whatever the Bajoran faith is called. We are introduced to Barail, who is supposed to allegorise the understanding, progressive spiritual leader. As someone who has several priests as close friends, let me be the first to say, that they certainly do exist. They are in fact the only tolerable form of religious people I have encountered, those who have enough *actual* faith in their beliefs not to feel pressed to force others to think as they do. In spite of this, they have to build Barail up as the most clichéd anti-Winn possible—all he wants is to plant flowers! He has absolutely *no* ambition and thus is the perfect candidate for Kai to challenge Bitchwhore. Luckily, they do rectify this sugary nonsense by revealing his political ambition preventing him from befriending Sisko. He does get this very honest line, however, “Oh, we're all very good at conjuring up enough fear to justify whatever we want to do.”

Bajoran idiocy is further demonstrated when Sisko returns to the station to find many of those officers absent from their posts, feigning illness. As much crap as I give Sisko, I have to empathise with him here; after all the Federation has done to help Bajor, including discovering their damned temple, rebuilding their world, protecting their borders and all while offering friendship and community, the first troublemaker to show up and start banging her bible has nearly all the Bajorans on DS9 cowering away from Sisko and his team.

And, it turns out Ensign hotpocket was killed by a phaser before being deposited in the conduit where O'Brien and Neela found him. Shocker.

Act 4 : ***.5, 17%

Odo reveals that Ensign hotpocket was murdered in a runabout the night before he was discovered in the conduit (Notice Kira has regressed to her ornery self-righteous self, interrupting Bashir and jumping to conclusions). In said runabout, O'Brien and Neela have a nice little scene which makes me wish they had been given a little more screentime. She's wonderfully disarming and sweet, while alluding to Starfleet-Bajoran tensions that have never been shown up to this point (psst, that's an historical revision, or retcon if you prefer).

Odo questions Quark about hotpocket's murder to little avail, and O'Brien shows up to offer some additional evidence; a piece of technology which points to a possible motivation to the killer's plan. In a thrilling moment, Keiko's school blows up right in the middle of the day, and poor O'Brien desperately screams for his wife. Luckily, she's fine, but imagine the impact of the tragedy if they had actually killed her. It's a visceral scene and quite powerful.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

Bitchwhore shows up at the site of the school and Sisko accuses her of motivating the terrorism against the school and she in turn accuses Sisko of conspiring to destroy the Bajoran people.

WINN : “You and your Federation live in Universe of darkness, and you would drag us in there with you.”

Oh, yeah. So much darkness, where we don't want for food or shelter, where we pursue careers that better ourselves and, oh yeah, are the reason you and your people aren't toiling away in mines or being raped by Cardassians!

Sisko's actual response is more diplomatic and is followed by Bitchwhore giving Neela a covert signal. Uh-oh.

Barail arrives unexpectedly in light of the explosion. He's obviously seen a political opportunity in befriending Sisko in light of the terrorism. Neela goes to Bitchwhore noting that O'Brien's and Odo's discovery will prevent her escape after she does whatever it is she's been asked to do. Bitchwhore responds that her 72 virgins will be waiting for her.

Meanwhile, O'Brien and Dax discover an anomalous programme which they begin to decode and Barail steps onto the promenade to adoring, um, fans, I guess. As the Smart People work to discover the secret, Barail pulls his own diplomatic overture, offering to resolve the differences between Bitchwhore and the Federations. O'Brien is winded when he discovers that Neela is the culprit. He warns Sisko who, in a bit of hammy slow-motion (complete with “Nooooooo!!!!”), throws himself over Neela, preventing her from assassinating Barail.

Kira and Sisko have a reasonable scene where they reconcile somewhat “I don't think you're the devil.” Gee, thanks, Major.

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

The really shoddy strawman nonsense in the first few acts gives way to an action-mystery plot and a decent appraisal of the Bajoran-Federation alliance at this point. The O'Briens save a lot of face for this episode, offering smart dialogue and some strong characterisations. Sisko is all over the map, spouting stupid new-age crap on the one hand and smart political speech on the other. Kira is regressed about half a season. Bitchwhore proves to be a fun villain, but the episode completely drops its faith arguments in lieu of the action stuff. It's a mixed bag, for sure, but an okay end to the season.

Final Score : **.5
DLPB - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 11:53am (USA Central)
I am not a fan of religion... at all. But the way it is treated here is so basic and with dice fully loaded. It seems to me like the writers tried to be as fair as they could be, but lacked any real understanding of the topic.

The main issue with this episode is that we, the audience, and the officers aboard DS9, KNOW that the "prophets" are aliens. WE know it to be a fact. Therefore, trying to convince the audience that both sides of the argument are equal, and that the Bajoran religion is just as valid as the science is a joke.

There is no shade of grey here... it's just very very silly writing.
DLPB - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 11:59am (USA Central)
Also, what I hate about this episode the most is the ridiculous idea that religions should be respected the same as science is. No. Religions have caused, and do cause, a TON of problems. Islam is tearing numerous countries up at the current time, and has for centuries. Go back further, and other religions have had their fair share of death.

And it's all just a man made ideology. If Nazism was a religion, would we be expected to respect it? Don't make me laugh.
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 1:13pm (USA Central)
"The main issue with this episode is that we, the audience, and the officers aboard DS9, KNOW that the "prophets" are aliens. WE know it to be a fact. Therefore, trying to convince the audience that both sides of the argument are equal, and that the Bajoran religion is just as valid as the science is a joke."

Huh? Can you tell me something in Bajoran religion that becomes wrong because the prophets are aliens? Anything? At all?
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 1:15pm (USA Central)
"And it's all just a man made ideology"

But the Bajoran religion isn't. It's based on non-linear aliens in the only known stable wormhole with tremendous power who sent orbs to the Bajorans....
Robert - Thu, Aug 28, 2014 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
And @Elliott - Picard wasn't a God but Sisko is the emissary of the very real prophets!
dlpb - Wed, Oct 1, 2014 - 7:19pm (USA Central)
@Robert

. It's based on non-linear aliens

--------

It is a fake religion because they believe the aliens to be gods. They aren't, by your own admission.
dlpb - Wed, Oct 1, 2014 - 7:22pm (USA Central)
Robert, you seem to be seriously confused as to what constitutes a god, a prophet, and a religion. You also seem to be playing apologist for some bad writing. It's better to just accept the writers were fallible.
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 8:49am (USA Central)
"Robert, you seem to be seriously confused as to what constitutes a god, a prophet, and a religion. You also seem to be playing apologist for some bad writing. It's better to just accept the writers were fallible."

We can all pretty much agree that the prophets fit the human definition of prophet (they can see the future as easily as the past) and the Bajoran definition one.

What is a God? You've got me. A creator? All powerful being? Benevolent caretaker? Is the Edo God a God? Is the Caretaker an Ocampan God? Suspiria? Is Q a God?

I'll agree that I don't know exactly what a God is, but if you can scientifically explain the nature of God, let me know. As to the problem at hand (science and religion being painted as equal).

KEIKO: Yes, on Bajor the entities are worshipped as prophets. Our studies of the wormhole have shown that it was formed by unique particles we call verterons that are apparently self-sustaining in nature. This begins to explain how a ship at impulse can safely pass through
WINN: Ships are safely guided through the passage by the hands of the Prophets.
KEIKO: In a manner of speaking.
WINN: Not apparently in your manner of speaking.

I honestly think the Jem'Hadar from "Sacrifice of Angels" might agree with Vedek Winn. :P

As to religion. The Bajorans have based their religion are real entities. Your insistence that Bajoran religion is less valid than science is ridiculous. Their Gods are real and since Starfleet doesn't totally understand the Prophets... there may even be things the Bajoran religion can tell us about these aliens that we don't know.

The original argument was silly of course. Winn's insistence that Keiko CALL THEM Prophets in a mixed, non religious class was complete nonsense. But then, she was being obtuse on purpose. I think that's something else to remember when you knock the episode for poor writing. Winn's position was painted as intentionally disruptive, because she wanted everything else to play out exactly as it did.

The only points the episode itself (not Winn) tries to make in favor of religion vs science are....

"KEIKO: I'm not teaching any philosophy. What I'm trying to teach is pure science.
KIRA: Some might say pure science, taught without a spiritual context, is a philosophy, Mrs O'Brien.
SISKO: My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station. Now, how do you suggest we deal with this? "

and

"JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious?
SISKO: My point is, it's a matter of interpretation. It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong. If you start to think that way, you'll be acting just like Vedek Winn"

We clearly can't look at this episode and think the writers are taking Winn's point of view though. She's clearly being impossible on purpose.

But looking at those 2 points of view... I agree with #2, but not with #1. I think Kira is being a little bit impossible here because she's being given a contemporary issue to speak about that doesn't fit the episode. Bajoran faith is NOT incompatible with science like modern religions are. Several bible books don't work with science, but having the Bajorans say Prophet and Celestial Temple vs Wormhole Aliens and Wormhole is a real potatoe potatato situation here.

As to #2, well he's right (IMHO), as explained above. I think if anything that's the whole point of the episode. Keiko is not teaching anything against Bajoran faith, and Winn knows that (again, she's being impossible on purpose). So does Bareil (who sides with the Federation). I suppose Kira is meant to not side with the Federation initially to create conflict, but I felt it was out of character. Still, to me, that one scene is the only thing that's not perfect about this episode.

4 Stars
Elliott - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 1:46pm (USA Central)
@Robert:

Not that I'd expect you to have read my review above, but all of your points were directly addressed therein. Allow me to parse it out :

R : "We can all pretty much agree that the prophets fit the human definition of prophet (they can see the future as easily as the past) and the Bajoran definition one...As to religion. The Bajorans have based their religion are real entities. Your insistence that Bajoran religion is less valid than science is ridiculous. Their Gods are real and since Starfleet doesn't totally understand the Prophets... there may even be things the Bajoran religion can tell us about these aliens that we don't know."

E : "Sisko tries to cover his apologist ass by pointing out the the Prophets can see the future. First of all, writers, a prophet does not predict the future, that's an oracle. A prophet proclaims what is happening right now and how it fits a divine plan. Second of all, if that's all it takes to be considered a god, you'd better starting nailing statues of John de Lancie to wooden crosses right now.

'It may not be what you believe, but that doesn't make it wrong.' So, are we claiming that Galileo's issue was that he had a different belief from the church authorities? That it was a matter of interpretation that the earth revolves around the sun? Great lesson, there!

'If you start to act that way, you'll be just like Vedek Winn, only from the other side.' That is the other deflectionary tactic that is often employed; all ideas are equally valid, therefore defending one or promoting one or deriding others is automatically wrong. Don't stop to think, folks, just drink the feel-good Koolaid. Kumbayah...."

R : "Bajoran faith is NOT incompatible with science like modern religions are. Several bible books don't work with science, but having the Bajorans say Prophet and Celestial Temple vs Wormhole Aliens and Wormhole is a real potatoe potatato situation here. "

Okay, the Bible is not a religion, it's a book. A religion is an institutionalised and canonised set of beliefs. Christian religions derive their institutions and canons *partly* from the words of particular translations of the Bible, but also from other sources (conferences, treaties, other books and writings, traditions, etc).

As I've said before gods can take one of two possible forms in religions; they are stand-ins for either gaps in psychological understanding or scientific understanding (or sometimes both). Religions like the ancient Greek are the former, Abrahamic religions (like Christianity) are (or at least, have been) the latter. A scientific mind (like Jefferson or Einstein) has only one option when trying to square the circle of believing in a god; this god must be the god of Spinoza, omnipotent and non-interfering. Spinoza's god created the laws of nature and set the Universe in motion. Being actually omnipotent (non of the beings on Star Trek fit this description, including Q), he/it has the power ("potent") to suspend the very laws he set in motion, but chooses not to. Therefore, one can operate scientifically, discovering and applying the laws of nature to one's own advantage by way of logical deduction.

Bajor's "gods" are not this. They are not omnipotent (they can be killed by technology); they are not non-interfering, and they are *subject* to the laws of nature, not above them. They may be more powerful than we (potentior), but not all-powerful (omnipotens).

The show doesn't want us to see it this way, but Bajor's relationship to the Prophets is more like the Soviet model for the deified State than any actual religion. The Prophets lack the necessary qualities to grant them the rights of a deity, the right to be above reproach, the right to dictate morality, the right to existential superiority over other beings. The fact that the Bajorans can't see that is a tragic result of their history, and any honest writer would acknowledge this, but because the Bajoran faith is meant to allegorise contemporary human faiths (most closely Judaism), and the DS9 writers don't want to offend the politically correct audience, this issue is insultingly circumvented time and time again, and this episode is no exception. I honestly don't understand why things like so-called "plot holes" (why aren't they out of shuttlecraft?) bother people more than these gaping holes in Socratic logic.
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 2:34pm (USA Central)
@Elliott - I guess I really just don't see any of this the way you do. I respect your opinion, but I read totally different things into this. I'll answer your first half (the part about Sisko being an apologist and the ridiculousness of treating all ideas as equal) first, since the second half is a whole other conversation and much more complicated.

People often think that respecting the beliefs of others means that all opinions are equal, but the episode comes down really hard in favor of Keiko and really hard against Winn and basically flat out states that even Winn doesn't believe what she was spouting. The episode does NOT treat all ideas as equal and neither does Sisko. His warning to Jake was to not be the hard head for the other side.

And as for prophets... "a prophet does not predict the future, that's an oracle". I call BS on that. A prophet in Christianity speaks with the word of God, but the Bajoran Gods clearly do speak with their own word and are called prophets because prophecy is (from the Dictionary) "a prediction" - synonyms: prediction, forecast, prognostication, prognosis, divination, augury. You might argue that calling them Oracles would have been slightly more correct, but my point here is that to dismiss Prophets are a decent term is probably silly too.

As for Sisko, this is literally all he says "JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets? "

Is that SO wrong? Honestly?! We're literally arguing semantics right now. Point 2 coming up....
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 2:49pm (USA Central)
Point #2 is tougher because your view is that the Bajoran Prophets are morally bankrupt because they are higher beings that are not Gods (merely beings advanced enough to appear as magic), but they allow the Bajorans to think of them as Gods, worship them and even try to run society based on what they THINK these Gods want.

"The show doesn't want us to see it this way, but Bajor's relationship to the Prophets is more like the Soviet model for the deified State than any actual religion. "

It could be. But it could also be like the relationship a parent has with their child. I'm not all powerful, all knowing and I make mistakes... but I still try to guide my children. Is it really impossible that the Prophets have that kind of relationship with Bajor. And if so, is that immoral. And if Bajorans think of these Prophets as some kind of benign benefactor and guide.... is it really wrong of us to judge this relationship that we don't totally understand.

To put the Prophets on trial for all of this (and we could, I'd love to see Picard do it, especially after the Mintakan incident) we'd need to consider 5 things I think.

1) The Prophets seem to want to influence Bajor. Else, why send them the orbs. What are they trying to accomplish?

2) They seem to want to protect Bajor (see "Rapture" and "Sacrifice of Angels"). So ok... they want to guide and protect their "children", so far so good for my theory.

3) They do muddle the message sometimes. The biggest problem with the Abrahamic God is that people do things in his name that, if he is real, I'd imagine would sicken him. In Accession they totally allow all of Bajor to be turned upside down to teach Sisko a lesson and they constantly let Winn speak for them (and run their religion) even though she clearly doesn't. The first example was screwed up (although some parents are harsh with lessons) but the second is silly. I mean, at one point they tell Kira and Shakkar to break up in an orb vision (::eyeroll::). Can't they just tell somebody that Kai Winn is an ass?

4) What were they thinking during the Occupation would have to be addressed as well.

5) Since they are non-linear.... do they even understand any of these things? What is their connection with Bajor? ARE they future Bajorans or something?

But in the long run.... is worshipping them bad, good or in between for Bajor? And if we assume it's bad simply for the sake of the fact that they aren't true Gods (but they might be true Prophets, since their yanno Prophecies come true) would Bajor still be wrong in thinking of them as guides (not Gods)?
William B - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 3:23pm (USA Central)
From Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prophet)

proph·et noun \ˈprä-fət\
: a member of some religions (such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) who delivers messages that are believed to have come from God

the Prophet —used as another name for Muhammad, the founder of Islam

the Prophets : the writers of the books of the Bible that describe what will happen in the future

Full Definition of PROPHET

1
: one who utters divinely inspired revelations: as
a often capitalized : the writer of one of the prophetic books of the Bible
b capitalized : one regarded by a group of followers as the final authoritative revealer of God's will
2
: one gifted with more than ordinary spiritual and moral insight; especially : an inspired poet
3
: one who foretells future events : predictor
4
: an effective or leading spokesman for a cause, doctrine, or group
5
Christian Science
a : a spiritual seer
b : disappearance of material sense before the conscious facts of spiritual Truth

----

Elliott is using definition 1 or 2, Robert is using definition 3.

Cleared it up! Or did I? I guess the open question is whether these definitions are compatible, and what the series seems to imply by using the word Prophet. I think that there is a conflation of "prophet" in the sense of predictor and "prophet" in the sense of spiritual/moral authority within the series, at least to some extent, and that fuzziness is part of the reason these debates are going on (and going on in the series). No one really can deny that the Prophets -- or, to simplify the discussion, Wormhole Aliens -- can be prophets in the predictor sense, as they have nonlinear time. The question of whether they use this predictor ability effectively is more ambiguous; it's definitely there in (e.g.) "Destiny" where the prediction about the vipers et al. is of a real sequence of events.

There is still some ambiguity even here -- if the Wormhole Aliens reveal some future event to people, can the people not then change their future? If they can, through the Orb of Time, allow access to the past, someone can change the past (like Arne Darvin in "Trials and Tribble-ations" attempts to do, and as possibly Kira tries to do in "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" depending on how one reads the episode). So this aspects is...fuzzy, but let's take it for read that in general the Wormhole Aliens' statements about events in the puny biped mortals' future can serve as accurate "predictions," i.e. accurately state what will happen before it happens.

They also have powers of gods more generally, in the sense of having power nearly unlimited on the scale of humans -- like Q, for instance.

The question is whether they have moral authority. And here I think we're mostly agreed that it is possible to see why Bajorans tend to view the Wormhole Aliens as having moral authority -- these are extremely powerful beings who make warnings and predictions which, if not followed, could spell disaster, maybe because they are predicting things or maybe because the Wormhole Aliens themselves will cause the disaster. But it's worth noting that if the Wormhole Aliens warn Sisko not to leave on a mission and he does anyway and then something bad happens, that is no more evidence of godhood than if Rasmussen brought future tech to the 22nd century in "A Matter of Time," or choose any other given time travel example. (I chose that one because it's the most absurd. One could say that Guinan's intuition seems almost divine in some small measure, for example; but I don't think anyone would genuinely think Rasmussen is any kind of demigod.) Similarly, the fact that the Wormhole Aliens can destroy a fleet of ships doesn't prove anything but that they're super powerful and can do whatever.

Anyway, it is a little bit annoying to me that the show does conflate these issues together. I'm not, I think, as annoyed by it as Elliott -- but it is a bit annoying. In that Ben and Jake argument, for example, where Sisko points out that they could be considered Prophets and Jake regards him with incredulity, it's kind of dumb because the only ambiguity lies in which definition of the *word* Prophet is being used. Ben indicates they might be Prophets because they stand out of linear time and thus may be able to have particular insight into future events -- i.e. they are Predictors. Jake rankles because how could his father really believe that the Prophets are Beings of Higher Moral Authority? If they just ditched the ambiguous language, there would be no, or at least, very little conflict between their views. I mean, let me make it explicit: imagine that this is their ACTUAL conversation:

"JAKE: But there were no Beings Of Higher Moral Authority. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Predictors Of the Future? "

Now, maybe it is a condition of a Prophet that it is BOTH a Being of Higher Moral Authority, and a Predictor of Future Events -- in which the fact that they can Predict Future Events is a necessary condition for this type of Prophet, and as such obviously they COULD be Prophets because they could Predict Future Events. But as far as I can recall, no one says outright that Prophets must be both higher authority beings and predictors; it sort of goes without saying. But there are beings with higher moral authority, at least in fiction and myth, who are not predictors of the future (within Trek, one could make a case for the Organians in terms of how the story treats them); and there are beings who can predict the future but do not have higher moral authority, including within the Trek canon.

I think that confusion is the big source of the problem. Now, maybe the series disentangles these disparate notions of divinity (godlike moral authority, and godlike power including future prediction) more effectively than I recall.
William B - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 3:29pm (USA Central)
Incidentally, I'm reading through the Dune novels right now (actually, listening to them on audiobook with my girlfriend) and there is a lot of interest on similar themes -- where the main characters build a religion centred on themselves, in part using their prescience/ability to see the future as a way of giving themselves divine clout. The conflation of seemingly supernatural power with moral authority is one of the big methods by which they maintain power -- and they are...sympathetic, to a degree, but the novels and main characters repeatedly question this. It's interesting. I feel like I've yet to really figure out what the books are fully "advocating," what moral perspective they are outlining, except as a sort of primer on the way in which a messiah's image is created and controlled and the consequences, both good and ill, this can have. Each novel leaves me feeling slightly unsatisfied when it ends -- but I find the journey interesting. And it's a pretty direct confrontation of many of these issues, of what makes a god a god, and whether some "ordinary" being with extraordinary gifts can effectively fill the societal role of a god, particularly for an oppressed people struggling to survive and thrive, the way the Prophets, who are ultimately not omnipotent but just much, much more powerful than humans and Bajorans, can for the Bajorans.
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 3:43pm (USA Central)
Well at the very least you cleared up the point I originally made.

"We can all pretty much agree that the prophets fit the human definition of prophet (they can see the future as easily as the past) and the Bajoran definition of one."

Yes, by the "they can see the future as easily as the past" definition in English, or as you specifically put it " one who foretells future events : predictor" they fit the bill. And if the Bajorans are using such (I suspect they are, it's a good name for non-linear aliens), it still fits and makes Sisko's line in this episode ""JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets? "" really, really harmless (IMHO).

Now that DOES not clear up if we should consider them Gods who have (and or deserve to have) moral authority over Bajor. And Major Kira does make it quite plain that they do in "Homefront" "KIRA: I suppose your gods aren't as cryptic as ours."

William, I really like your final couple of paragraphs as it makes very clear to me exactly what's going on right here. I'm Sisko and Elliot is Jake. I'm sitting here basically still talking about my original point (which was that Bajoran mysticism isn't just hokum because it's based on real beings with real powers and real interest in Bajor)

""And it's all just a man made ideology"

But the Bajoran religion isn't. It's based on non-linear aliens in the only known stable wormhole with tremendous power who sent orbs to the Bajorans....

And Elliott is rankled that they are being given moral authority. In essence, we are having 2 completely different sets of conversations. What's interesting though, is that because the only time in THIS episode that they point even comes up in, as you said, ambiguous language was through Jake... I guess I just felt like he was being a stupid kid who needed some help to see beyond the black and white positions of "they are gods" and "they are just random aliens". The truth (and the nature of their special relationship with Bajor) lies in between. I think Elliott feels rankled because he's reading those lines as giving some kind of validation to real world religions, but I don't see it that way (from either Jake or the writers).

OTHER episodes may be more problematic in this regard, but I don't see this one as being. I guess what's REALLY interesting is that while I'm not sure they do have moral authority (in fact I'd think they don't) I'm still not sure it's a great plan to ignore them... cause really bad things tend to happen. So are they abusive or helpful guides? I think it really all depends on your reading of the show.

But Elliott and I are not having the same conversation and your illustration


"JAKE: But there were no Beings Of Higher Moral Authority. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Predictors Of the Future? "

makes that really, really clear.
Robert - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 3:47pm (USA Central)
I'd also like to point out as well that our "what makes a God" and "moral authority" conversations are VERY Abrahamic. The Greek Gods certainly could not have had moral authority (all that in-fighting basically means it's impossible that more than 1 or 2 of them had true moral authority, else how were they constantly in conflict). Yet they WERE Gods.
Elliott - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 5:51pm (USA Central)
@Robert :

First of all, I brought up the point about the Greek gods already--as I said, that type of deity is a precursor to what we now call psychology (Wagner-Nietzsche-Freud-Jung-Campbell), where as Abrahamic God is a remnant of a pre-skeptical age in Mesopotamian culture. The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the former type of god which is why we are having this conversation in this manner.

I am "rankled" as you say because you are being pretty obtuse about the show's take on Religion :

"To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets? "" really, really harmless (IMHO)."

It's only harmless if you completely ignore the innuendo and subtext of the conversation. The substance of Jake's question was in reference to the fact that his Bajoran classmates weren't allowed to attend school and learn about science and history, which was predicated on Bajoran credulity, which Sisko excuses (partially) on the basis that the WA can actually predict the future. The episode even shows the extreme end of religious thinking in the bombing of Keiko's school. So, no, I don't find it "harmless" as you say.

"I think Elliott feels rankled because he's reading those lines as giving some kind of validation to real world religions, but I don't see it that way (from either Jake or the writers)."

Forgive me, but your belief that a franchise whose identity is so deeply rooted in social commentary to spend so much time discussing the implications of the Bajoran religion to have no agenda or philosophical motivation is, I think, pretty damned naïve.

The Bajorans DO take the Prophets (or interpretations of them) to be the lode stone of their morality, and the only justification the series gives us for this is this idea about non-linear time. So we are *not* having two different conversations, you are just unwilling to confront the implications of certain ideas raised on the show.

@Robert & William :

The word "Prophet" has a particular flavour and connotation in our vernacular in the west; it is *implicitly* religious without feeling pushy the way "God" does, but not fully mythical the way "Muse" would. It was specifically chosen, I believe, for the fact that it gives wiggle room for the writers to paint them as either pseudo-Christian or pseudo-Greek depending on the demands of the story. But this conflation as William rightly pointed out is a source of incredible and (to me) infuriating ineptitude in dealing with a profound and volatile subject.
Elliott - Thu, Oct 2, 2014 - 5:52pm (USA Central)
"The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the former type of god..."

should have read :

"The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the [LATTER] type of god..."
Robert - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 10:14am (USA Central)
"First of all, I brought up the point about the Greek gods already--as I said, that type of deity is a precursor to what we now call psychology (Wagner-Nietzsche-Freud-Jung-Campbell), where as Abrahamic God is a remnant of a pre-skeptical age in Mesopotamian culture. The Prophets are unambiguously portrayed as the latter type of god "

Are we sure? There are more than one of them (that doesn't smack of monotheism). They don't always agree (Pah Wraiths anyone). Even the Sarah Prophet seems to be giving him a personal warning at some point.

I do agree they lean the other way, but I'm not really seeing it as an absolute.

"It's only harmless if you completely ignore the innuendo and subtext of the conversation. The substance of Jake's question was in reference to the fact that his Bajoran classmates weren't allowed to attend school and learn about science and history, which was predicated on Bajoran credulity, which Sisko excuses (partially) on the basis that the WA can actually predict the future. The episode even shows the extreme end of religious thinking in the bombing of Keiko's school. So, no, I don't find it "harmless" as you say."

I think we may have to agree to disagree. There is a position between "Bajoran belief is stupid [Jake] and children can't hear anything that might slightly contradict Bajoran belief [Winn]." And that in between point is Sisko. And his beliefs (which seem to be that Winn is a jackass but that Jake doesn't need to be as obtuse as Winn) doesn't seem that horrid to me. If you read Jake/Ben's position the way I do. If you see their positions as differently than I do, I don't think we can reconcile that.

It's my belief that Christians/Jews/Muslims are entitles to their beliefs as long as they don't try to make schools stop teaching evolution and the like. I don't have to agree with them, but Jake is basically calling them stupid. And I kind of agree with Ben that it's not cool. Again, this is tough because the Gods are real and you don't see them as Gods. But what would they have to do to be Gods for sure? Would Bajorans have to end up there in the afterlife? (are we sure they don't??)

Also, it's really not fair to say that not being anti-religion is harmful because religious jackasses might blow up a school! I (and Ben) are anti-those guys!!! And Winn wasn't even blowing up schools for religious beliefs, she was doing it as a political power play.... Maybe instead of being anti-Prophets we should just be anti-Winn.

"Forgive me, but your belief that a franchise whose identity is so deeply rooted in social commentary to spend so much time discussing the implications of the Bajoran religion to have no agenda or philosophical motivation is, I think, pretty damned naïve.

The Bajorans DO take the Prophets (or interpretations of them) to be the lode stone of their morality, and the only justification the series gives us for this is this idea about non-linear time. So we are *not* having two different conversations, you are just unwilling to confront the implications of certain ideas raised on the show."

I DO think that this episode is an allegory for real world things having to do with religion. I just don't think it's the allegory you think it is. I mean, we COULD get the writers in on this conversation somehow, but I'm not sure how to do so....

To ME this episode is not about being tolerant of backwards religious points. To ME this episode is about politicians using backwards religious points to score political victories and how loving religious people (Bajorans are said to be kind, gentle people on more than one occasions) can be turned into bigots when someone wields the word of God in a negative way. You look at Sisko and you see "apologist for backwards beliefs". I look at EVERY OTHER LINE in the episode and see my view. And for someone who writes reviews scene by scene (which is cool btw) I really have to say I think you're letting your view of the Bajoran religion across 7 seasons affect what you're seeing in THIS episode.

What were the writer's thinking when they wrote THIS episode?

"WINN: The prophets have spoken to me through the orbs, Emissary. I understand my duty to defend the Bajoran faith. The teacher has dishonoured the Celestial Temple. If she does not recant, I cannot be responsible for the consequences. " (She's flat out lying, we guessed this back then, we know this for a FACT by the end of the series. They've never spoken to her, she doesn't believe a word she's saying)

"ODO: Why wouldn't you want to sell to them?
KEIKO: Miles, can we go? Let's go.
VENDOR: Seek the Prophets.
ODO: Seek them yourself."
(Odo is painted as the voice of reason here. Another brainwashed zombie using a religious extremist/false prophet's word as an excuse for hate)

"KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no. "
(The episode is clearing painting Keiko as the hero... especially pitted against Winn. She is the mouthpiece for the writers here)

And then the nutjobs bomb the school. BOMB A SCHOOL!

And the ONLY thing the episode offers in favor of Winn's point of view is Sisko telling Jake not to be a hard head for the other side. That's it. Just "don't be an extremist". And for that you think the episode is somehow being uber-pro religion to the point where you equate Sisko's words as being harmful to the point of relating him to the bombing?!

If this episode were written today I'm pretty sure watching it I would just hear it SCREAMING at the top of the writer's lungs "THE TEA PARTY IS BAD, THE TEA PARTY IS BAD, THE TEA PARTY IS BAD!!!!"

Again though, it's just MY reading of the episode, but I certainly am not saying that the episode is an allegory, just not the one you think it is!

"The word "Prophet" has a particular flavour and connotation in our vernacular in the west; it is *implicitly* religious without feeling pushy the way "God" does, but not fully mythical the way "Muse" would. It was specifically chosen, I believe, for the fact that it gives wiggle room for the writers to paint them as either pseudo-Christian or pseudo-Greek depending on the demands of the story. But this conflation as William rightly pointed out is a source of incredible and (to me) infuriating ineptitude in dealing with a profound and volatile subject. "

Since prophet in the pseudo-Christian sense means "speaking for God" basically... I just assumed that the writers had to mean it in the Greek sense, namely because otherwise you'd have the meaning be "Gods that speak for God". Which is kind of obvious. If a God is called a prophet and they exist in non-linear time I can only assume that they don't mean the Christian sense. Now whether of not it was chosen for the judeo-Christian flavor of the word... it could be. But I personally never took the meaning to be anything other than predictor while I was watching the show.

Doesn't mean I'm right, just how I personally interpreted it. Don't want to start a conversation about death of the author or whatnot, but we can have 2 totally different readings of the show, and that's ok (IMHO).

Really sorry about how long this got :-(
Robert - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 10:24am (USA Central)
That should read "but I certainly am not saying that the episode isn't an allegory, it's just not the one you think it is!"
Elliott - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 11:16am (USA Central)
@Robert :

Thanks again for the reply--and please don't apologise for length of all things! I enjoy these little debates.

"There are more than one of them (that doesn't smack of monotheism). They don't always agree (Pah Wraiths anyone). Even the Sarah Prophet seems to be giving him a personal warning at some point."

Well, true the Bajorans are polytheists, but the Prophets don't stand in mythologically for what we now analyse psychologically, because psychology exists. The Prophets are more the doling out morals and doing magic tricks type (Abraham's God).

"There is a position between 'Bajoran belief is stupid [Jake]' and 'children can't hear anything that might slightly contradict Bajoran belief [Winn].'"

You seem to be implying that these two positions lie on either extreme of a linear argument, and thus whichever position bisects that line is the most "reasonable," but this is a sophomoric argument. It's like saying that whichever political system is half-way between Fascism (right) and Communism (left) is the most reasonable. All I ask is that these positions be analysed for what they are, not simply taken at face value.

Your distillations "Bajoran belief is stupid" and "[Bajoran] children can't hear anything that might slightly contradict Bajoran belief" are worth looking at more closely before deciding if a compromise in between is really desirable.

First of all "Bajoran belief is stupid" is pretty vague--even young Jake wasn't making this claim--he specifically pointed out what he found stupid about it, namely that it caused otherwise rational people to behave incredibly stupidly (denying their children education) at the behest of one moustache-twirling villain. Is it reasonable to say that the behaviour of the Bajoran parents was stupid? Yes, it is. It brings about the least amount of good for the most amount of people. It's stupid. Is this a particularly diplomatic way of phrasing this? Of course not, Jake's no ambassador. So I don't mind Sisko looking for ways to soft-pedal this idea. That IS is his job after all.

Bitchwhore's position is interesting here; I wonder if it was beliefs like hers which made the Bajoran parents so easy to manipulate. If one refuses to entertain the notion that a diversity of ideas is good for the mind, one's mind tends not to grow very large or deep, and one becomes a pawn in someone else's game. Bitchwhore's position is so clearly constructed out a specific agenda that it is not worth considering in the same spectrum of ideas as Jake's. Jake may be uncouth and unrefined in his opinion, but it stems from genuine deductive reasoning and earnest motivation. Bitchwhore is simply promoting the most expedient philosophy to attain her own goals.

"To ME this episode is not about being tolerant of backwards religious points. To ME this episode is about politicians using backwards religious points to score political victories and how loving religious people (Bajorans are said to be kind, gentle people on more than one occasions) can be turned into bigots when someone wields the word of God in a negative way."

That's the rub, isn't it? "Loving...people can be turned into bigots" BECAUSE they are religious, because they think in terms which force them to abandon reason when it conflicts with their inherited wisdom and beliefs. Yes, we should hold those who would abuse weak-minded people for their own ends accountable, but we don't let religion off the hook either. If a house is damaged by termite infestation and someone ceases the opportunity to knock it down with a sledge hammer, we can certainly blame the person for knocking it down so cruelly, but we don't then say that the house was just fine before in its infested state!

"I think you're letting your view of the Bajoran religion across 7 seasons affect what you're seeing in THIS episode."

You're free to think that, but believe me, if I were to bring it the drivel from later episodes (especially from the last season), I would have a LOT more to say about how stupid Bajoran faith is. No, really am basing my views on this episode and those which came before it (especially "Emissary" and "Battle Lines").

"the ONLY thing the episode offers in favor of Winn's point of view is Sisko telling Jake not to be a hard head for the other side. That's it. Just 'don't be an extremist'."

Jake an extremist? Okay, the day an atheist blows up a church or a temple, let me know. It doesn't happen! Does this then mean that every single religious person is going to blow up a building? No, of course not, but what is extremist atheism? Christopher Hitchens giving lectures? Bill Maher doing standup? And don't dare bring up the USSR, because as has been explained many times by thinkers far greater than I, the USSR was a quasi-religious nation that deified the State (made it infallible, perfect, and the source of wisdom and truth). That's not atheism.

What I blame Sisko for is apologising for the mode of thinking which allowed Neela to blow up a school and try to assassinate Bareil, because not every credulous Bajoran would do so. A non-religious person is capable of blowing up a school, sure, but that has to be in their character (Garak, for example). For an otherwise sweet, compassionate and reasonable person to do something horrible, that takes religion.
Robert - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 11:54am (USA Central)
"First of all "Bajoran belief is stupid" is pretty vague--even young Jake wasn't making this claim--he specifically pointed out what he found stupid about it, namely that it caused otherwise rational people to behave incredibly stupidly (denying their children education) at the behest of one moustache-twirling villain. Is it reasonable to say that the behaviour of the Bajoran parents was stupid? Yes, it is. It brings about the least amount of good for the most amount of people. It's stupid. Is this a particularly diplomatic way of phrasing this? Of course not, Jake's no ambassador. So I don't mind Sisko looking for ways to soft-pedal this idea. That IS is his job after all. "

This is a fairly interesting point to look at. You are right, some people dismiss religion as being evil in general because the bad it causes outweighs the good. But, as William points out, Sisko and Jake were sort of having 2 conversations.

"JAKE: But the same thing is happening now with all this stuff about the Celestial Temple in the wormhole. It's dumb.
SISKO: No, it's not. You've got to realise something, Jake. For over fifty years, the one thing that allowed the Bajorans to survive the Cardassian occupation was their faith. The Prophets were their only source of hope and courage."

In this case I side with Jake and you actually. It IS dumb that the parents were abandoning their school at the behest of one mustache twirling villain. I don't necessarily know that Sisko is wrong (I think he's trying to empathize with them more than agreeing with them). But Jake is right, it IS dumb.

"JAKE: But there were no Prophets. They were just some aliens that you found in the wormhole.
SISKO: To those aliens, the future is no more difficult to see than the past. Why shouldn't they be considered Prophets?
JAKE: Are you serious? "

Here Jake being incredulous is much less on track. But this is not the same conversation they were having 10 seconds ago, they jumped tracks.

In this way, I see your annoyance with this scene. They paint Jake as an extremist because he can't even fathom why the Bajorans have such stupid beliefs... but in one second we're saying their beliefs are stupid because they are all worked up and ready to bomb schools (even if we didn't know that yet) and the next because they call the wormhole aliens Gods. I do think upon looking carefully here that Jake is meant to look less reasonable than he should be.

"That's the rub, isn't it? "Loving...people can be turned into bigots" BECAUSE they are religious, because they think in terms which force them to abandon reason when it conflicts with their inherited wisdom and beliefs. Yes, we should hold those who would abuse weak-minded people for their own ends accountable, but we don't let religion off the hook either."

But that's specifically why I don't think this episode is being really apologist for religion. This episode comes just short of saying religious folk are 3 good sermons away from being school bombing zealots. :P

"Jake an extremist? Okay, the day an atheist blows up a church or a temple, let me know. It doesn't happen! Does this then mean that every single religious person is going to blow up a building? No, of course not, but what is extremist atheism? Christopher Hitchens giving lectures? Bill Maher doing standup?"

Hate is hate though, right? I mean... you don't have to blow stuff up to be hateful. Sisko was seeing his son condemn people not for their actions, but for their beliefs and that made him want to counter-argue. I get where he was coming from.

"What I blame Sisko for is apologising for the mode of thinking which allowed Neela to blow up a school and try to assassinate Bareil, because not every credulous Bajoran would do so. A non-religious person is capable of blowing up a school, sure, but that has to be in their character (Garak, for example). For an otherwise sweet, compassionate and reasonable person to do something horrible, that takes religion. "

It's interesting though, isn't it. A minute ago you mentioned something quasi-religious (the USSR) that could inspire the same kind of nuttery. And so can political zealots/extremists.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that group think is bad. Diversity is good. Kira is less nuts because she has other people giving her other points of view (namely her Federation friends). Bareil/Opaka are benevolent religious forces. We pledge allegiance to the flag in this country. Group think, religion, brainwashing, propaganda.... heck, look at Nazi Germany. That wasn't a religion either.

Religion can inspire a special kind of nutterism, but any kind of group think that doesn't allow in other points of view are dangerous. Sisko's position of "SISKO: My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station." is a pretty good one I think. One that encourages the opposite of what causes this kind of zealotry.

For full disclosure I fall somewhere between spiritual, agnostic and Christian. But I have a general dislike of organized religion. Especially large ones.
Elliott - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 1:07pm (USA Central)
Yes, groupthink is a part of it, but that's not really the issue. One can say, "as an American, I support my country, as should every American" and it's not intrinsically bad. When that turns into "America can do no wrong, and if you disagree with me, you're un-patriotic," one has crossed the threshold to a *religious* mindset. True, the object of the deification is a physical state, rather than a numinous being (just like the Prophets, physical beings), but the mentality is the same. Religion (that is, non-Greek, proto-psychological) requires a belief in divine perfection, incorruptible purity and infallibility (like the Soviets and Nazis forced on the populace with regards to the State).

Large organised religions are problematic because they hold freethinkers hostage to the logical fallacies of spirituality. They do this precisely because the only way they can maintain their existence is in this hostage-taking. Why does a numinous God who is omnipresent, timeless and purely benevolent require the intervention of an institution that collects money and imposes restrictions on physical, phenomenal mortal life? That's idiotic, and I think we agree on this point. However, "spiritual" aligned people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs. The illogic remains, the contradictions remain, and the potential for extremism remains, although it is less likely.

"'My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station.' is a pretty good one I think."

I wonder if Sisko would tolerate a delegation of the KKK on DS9, or Terre'Blanche. It's nothing but wishy-washy bullshit. Some philosophies should not be tolerated. I am not saying any religious person is philosophically equivalent to a Klansman or AWB, but nor is his philosophical deficiency negated by virtue of its "diversity."
Elliott - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 1:10pm (USA Central)
"However, "spiritual" aligned people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs."

should have read

"However, "spiritual" [unaligned] people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs."

I want to be able to edit comments!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Robert - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 1:22pm (USA Central)
""However, "spiritual" [unaligned] people have simply removed the urgency of a convicting organisation to test their beliefs.""

I think in my case I don't necessarily know that I have any concrete ones, I just think I believe in something stronger than agnostic and that whatever that thing is should be more personal.

I suppose it's an easy view for me to take because there are no contradictions in believing in a non-specified something. I even feel it's possible to experience something spiritual through science :P The universe/nature/whatever you want to call it is pretty awe inspiring.

I do share your issue with organized religion though, but I think so does DS9. The prophets are good aligned (I think) but we only have a handful of people on the show who are both very religious and (probably) good aligned. Bareil is one, Opaka is another, the vedek who hangs himself in S6 is one... but a great deal of religious zealots on DS9 are nuts. Like Winn, or Neela, or Dukat (later), or even the Vedek that kills someone for having an unclean D'Jarra because he thinks that's what the emissary who thinks he knows what the Prophets wants told him to do. CREEEPY!

For the Christian side of me (whatever part still believes any of that stuff) I guess I like to more see the bible as being stories that teach us how to live, not as history books. For me, if science contradicts the bible, science wins. I guess my point is that since I feel I believe in stuff but it holds no illogical power over me (that I know of), I can't believe that belief in stuff is an inherently bad thing.

That said, I respect atheists for their beliefs. I think it's sad in this country that a hate mongering religious pretender is more likely to get elected than an atheist. Heck a gay polygamist pedophile is probably more likely to get elected than an atheist >.< (not equating gay people or polygamists to pedophiles here, just trying to think of something that would make the religious rights heads explode). I also think that Sisko's "'My philosophy is that there is room for all philosophies on this station.'" probably wouldn't include hate speech. Personally I think free speech in this country goes too far when it comes to hate speech.
Robert - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 1:47pm (USA Central)
Actually, I supposed what I really love about this episode is the way that it particularly paints the villain doing the darkest thing that organized religion does (and you touched upon it above).

"They do this precisely because the only way they can maintain their existence is in this hostage-taking."

"WINN: Let me be the one to make the first concession. I will no longer request that you teach anything about the Celestial Temple. Just don't teach anything about the wormhole at all.
KEIKO: Ignore it?
WINN: Find other ways, other things to teach the children.
KEIKO: And when we get to theories of evolution or creation of the universe, what then?
WINN: We'll face those issues when we come to them.
KEIKO: I'm a teacher. My responsibility is to expose my students to knowledge, not hide it from them. The answer is no.
WINN: I've tried to be reasonable. "

When religious people don't like certain knowledge the knee jerk reaction is to hide the knowledge from children. Hide knowledge. From children.

To me, that should be akin to child abuse. But I think the way that the episode so clearly paints Keiko as the hero is a condemnation of that type of thing.

The series itself is very good to the Prophets but it's very hard on organized religion. The Vedek assembly ends up being run by Kai Bitchwhore (as you lovingly refer to her), they switch emissaries at the drop of a hat (TASHA: "Any hat"), the Bajorans like Kai Bitchwhore so much they were nearly ready to become a theocracy and give her power over the state, one of Kira's friends joins the Pagh Wraith cult, the Vedek assembly doesn't slowly torture Kai Bitchwhore to death after she ASSAULTS A PROPHET with chroniton radiation, a Vedek murders another Vedek in "Accession", a Prylar collaborated with the Cardassians.... I mean, the Prophets come off as being good guys, but I never really felt the show was kind to the religion as a whole.

But hiding kids from knowledge, that's really not ok in my book, and is one of organized religions biggest sins.
Peremensoe - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 3:15pm (USA Central)
Elliott sez, "Jake an extremist? Okay, the day an atheist blows up a church or a temple, let me know. It doesn't happen! Does this then mean that every single religious person is going to blow up a building? No, of course not, but what is extremist atheism? Christopher Hitchens giving lectures? Bill Maher doing standup?"

More like the Soviets and the Chinese sending religious leaders to die in labor camps.
Elliott - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 3:15pm (USA Central)
"I do share your issue with organized religion though, but I think so does DS9. The prophets are good aligned (I think) but we only have a handful of people on the show who are both very religious and (probably) good aligned. "

Why exactly is it that it's okay to worship the Prophets, but not the Founders or the Pagh Wraiths? After all, as you said there are good and bad guys on all sides who hold religious convictions. So why are the Founders evil subjugators but the Prophets benevolent protectors? Why is adherence to the Pagh Wraith Cult's stupid customs (abstinence, isolation) worse than adherence to stupid Klingon customs (fasting, blood oaths)?

The show is very kind to the Bajorans and their spirituality. THIS episode is slightly more evenhanded than later ones, which is why it does not bear my disdain the way "Rapture," "Accession," and the general Pagh Wraith arc do, but it still skirts the issues in order to come across as some sort of PC salve to TNG's sensibility. Yes, DS9 showed *individual* members of Bajoran society who were evil or misguided, but the show never shone a critical light on their beliefs or customs the way it did on the Dominion.

Sisko's wonderful "Do you really want to give your life for the 'Order of Things?'" would have been a perfect response to any number of Bajoran foolishness (including Neela's here), but he never says that to them. The only people ever shown to be critical of Bajoran beliefs are those mean ol' Cardassians, whose racist undertones basically invalidate whatever real criticisms might be made. The humans aren't critical either, generally just alluding to the "not my cup of tea" school of avoidance. Don't get me wrong, I don't think O'Brien and Bashir need to be chastising their Bajoran colleagues every day for being religious, but when the issue is raised (like it is here), the human perspective is watered down to half-hearted silliness like Sisko's "all philosophies are okay" schlock.
Elliott - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 3:17pm (USA Central)
@ Peremensoe :

Did you not read the very next sentence?

"And don't dare bring up the USSR, because as has been explained many times by thinkers far greater than I, the USSR was a quasi-religious nation that deified the State (made it infallible, perfect, and the source of wisdom and truth). That's not atheism."

It applies to the Maoist Chinese as much as the Stalinist USSR.
Peremensoe - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 3:30pm (USA Central)
By that argument all ideological persecution everywhere is committed by religionists, which is nonsense. People can be self-righteously assured and vindictive about a variety of dogmas.

But hey, you too can be infallible by just defining your terms into meaninglessness.
Robert - Fri, Oct 3, 2014 - 3:56pm (USA Central)
Elliott - There are 2 different things at play here. There is the belief system and the organization. I will certainly agree the series is kind to the belief system, but I don't feel the actual organization itself

"BAREIL: You have been correctly informed. I'm sorry, Commander. The Vedek Assembly will not see you.
SISKO: Why not?
BAREIL: Some fear you as the symbol of a Federation they view as godless. Some fear you as the Emissary who has walked with the Prophets. And some fear you because Vedek Winn told them to. We're all very good conjuring up enough fear to justify whatever we want to do. Today, I am only a Vedek. If the Prophets will it, someday I may be Kai, and I can be a better friend to you then. "

That's not a particularly kind description of the Vedek assembly. Their belief system though, yes the show is kind to that.

"Why exactly is it that it's okay to worship the Prophets, but not the Founders or the Pagh Wraiths? After all, as you said there are good and bad guys on all sides who hold religious convictions. So why are the Founders evil subjugators but the Prophets benevolent protectors? Why is adherence to the Pagh Wraith Cult's stupid customs (abstinence, isolation) worse than adherence to stupid Klingon customs (fasting, blood oaths)?"

Here we go, time to make this debate more lively. I actually think the Founders might fit the bill of Gods better than the Prophets do, and I'm not certain that I have a problem with them being worshiped. Obviously I don't personally agree with the Founders motivations, but

"ODO: Has it ever occurred to you that the reason you believe the Founders are gods is because that's what they want you to believe? That they built that into your genetic code?
WEYOUN: Of course they did. That's what gods do. After all, why be a god if there's no one to worship you? "

He has a point.... the Founders created these races, programmed them to worship them and have a pretty amazing array of powers. And all they want to do is bring order to chaos. They certainly make interesting Gods!

And as to the Pagh Wraiths.... only one scene in the entire series makes me think it's bad to worship them.

"JAKE: You don't have to explain. When the Pah-wraith was inside me, I could feel its hatred and I knew that no matter what, it couldn't be allowed to win. Even if it meant I had to die. You did the right thing."

That's it. Beyond that we have no indication that the Pagh Wraiths want anything "bad" except the death of the Prophets... Prophets who didn't intervene during the occupation

"FALA: I was a member of this cult, as you call it, long before Dukat. I came to it toward the end of the occupation. It's helped me make sense of the suffering we all had to endure.
KIRA: In the camp, you kept us together. It was your faith in the Prophets that got us through. How could you of all people would turn your back on them?
FALA: They turned their backs on us long ago. "

In truth Jake's word is the only thing we have to indicate that the Pagh Wraiths are not worthy of worship.

At the very least, I assume that wasn't the answer you expected :P
Yanks - Tue, Oct 7, 2014 - 10:58am (USA Central)
Wow guys...

Still going on the "Creation v Evolution" thing? :-)

Oh, and just because the wormhole aliens are real, doesn't mean the Bajorian's creation of religion around them any "smarter".
Elliott - Thu, Oct 9, 2014 - 2:29pm (USA Central)
@Robert :

"I will certainly agree the series is kind to the belief system, but I don't feel the actual organization itself"

Well, that's like being kind to paying someone off to do murder, but wagging your finger at the notion of the Mafia. It's only bad when it's organised? That's rather strange.

The Founders made themselves "gods" to the Dominion races so that they wouldn't have to justify their actions or motivations, they had absolute moral authority in their society (just like the Prophets do). What if the Changelings had been more like Odo, kinder, gentler, but still making themselves into gods. Would that make it okay? Is it okay for entire races to follow false premises because those who lied to them in the first place are kind of nice instead of fascists?

Because of religious thinking, the only thing preventing the Bajorans from becoming like the Dominion (aside from available resources) is the happenstance that the Prophets are not expansionist beings. "Ascension" showed us that the Bajorans are willing to do whatever they think the Prophets want of them, including enslaving and killing their own, on a whim. That is fucking dangerous.
Robert - Thu, Oct 9, 2014 - 3:26pm (USA Central)
"It's only bad when it's organised? That's rather strange."

Not necessarily. Isn't Lutheranism all about how one guy thought the church was doing it wrong but the bible was good? And then he did his own spin on the religion?

My point was just that belief in the prophets and their authority is a separate thing from the organization that is run by the Kai. Arguably Ben Sisko ends up believing in the Prophets but he is NOT part of Bajoran organized religion.

They can both be bad or good (the religion and the beliefs), but they are separate.

""Ascension" showed us that the Bajorans are willing to do whatever they think the Prophets want of them, including enslaving and killing their own, on a whim. That is fucking dangerous."

I think I've made it pretty clear that I think organized religion can be scary/dangerous but that doesn't mean I'm totally against religious belief in general.

As to the Founders.... if a man who thinks he speaks for God tells you all to do scary things (as in Ascension) that's pretty terrifying. But what if your Gods actually do tell you to do scary things (like the Dominion)?
Del_Duio - Tue, Nov 4, 2014 - 10:59am (USA Central)
The first episode which really solidifies how terrible a person Kai Winn is. Blowing up a school? Brainwash and assassinations?

Sisko should have booted her and that pointy hat out the nearest airlock lol.

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