Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"In the Hands of the Prophets"


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

13 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.

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.

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