Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Siege"


Air date: 10/11/1993
Written by Michael Piller
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The weakest of the overall stellar three-parter wraps the plot up nicely, but unlike the first two parts there's more a sense that the story's events were pre-planned by a writing team than they followed inevitably from the setup of the story.

"The Siege" documents a Bajoran coup d'état that backs the Circle's planned takeover of Bajor. The military operation is led by General Krim (Stephen Maght) who plans to take control of the station. Since internal Bajoran politics are out of the Federation's hands and the Circle's coup wants nothing to do with the Federation, Starfleet Command orders Sisko to evacuate all Starfleet personnel from the station. Sisko evacuates his crew, but hides himself and his team on the station to delay Krim's forces long enough so that Kira and Dax can deliver crucial proof of the Cardassian involvement to the Bajoran Chamber of Ministers.

"Siege" is an entertaining and credible wrap-up of the situation that benefits from plenty of interesting intrigue, but there's also a great deal of lackluster action mired in here. The bloodless phaser fight on the promenade lacks punch, and scenes where Quark hauls his latinum through the air shafts are needless wastes of screen time. On the other hand, the fresh action sequences where Kira and Dax fly to Bajor in a run-down craft that's been sitting since the resistance days are both engaging and humorous—and incredibly well done.

Kolbe's direction is atmospheric and the production is impressive, although the story's ending is less than what it could've been. The danger recedes a little too quickly, the Circle's coup disintegrates a tad too neatly, and the roles of characters like Jaro and Winn in the plot feel somewhat unfinished. Also, the arbitrary death that gets Li Nalas "off the hook"—while effective as closure for his character—highlights how much potential has been lost by simply deleting the character. The overall effect of this finale is good, but not up to what came before.

Previous episode: The Circle
Next episode: Invasive Procedures

Season Index

17 comments on this review

John - Fri, Jun 29, 2012 - 11:16am (USA Central)
Quite a groundbreaking 3 parter. An early sign of DS9's ambitious and experimental nature.

At least for Trek anyway.
Greg M - Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - 2:16am (USA Central)
Surprised there are so few comments to this episode. Just watched the entire trilogy tonight and it holds up very well today. I also agree with Jammer that the best scenes were with Kira and Dax in the small ship. It added a sense of humor to the episode that needed it.
T'Paul - Mon, Jul 1, 2013 - 3:59pm (USA Central)
I thought some of the Bajoran villains were a bit overdone ... but generally a good and plausible trilogy about political intrigues on Bajor.
azcats - Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - 1:17pm (USA Central)
I liked the flight scenes with dax and kira. from space to atmosphere. you reallly felt like you were in a tiny ship.

i liked the games of cat and mouse on ds9 with the fighting.

i thought the chambers scene with winn and the minister seemed a bit off.

they seemed so determined, but they offered no resistance to the proof. it seemed unlike their characters to that point. it seemed like the "colonel" who shot Li...acted more like how i expected the minister would have.

but...i guess it was the politicalness of Winn. she knew when she was beaten. of course, it was weird. it was like everyone knew that the minister and winn were part of the coup..but doesnt seem like anyone cared at that point. a bit confusing'
Kotas - Tue, Oct 22, 2013 - 3:29pm (USA Central)

Just not that into the Bajorans other than Kira. An ok conclusion to the three-parter.

Jack - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 3:20pm (USA Central)
So who does the Kohn-Ma form last years Past Prologue fit into this? Both them and Jaro here seem to be similar Bajor-for-Bajorans agendas.
Grumpy - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 4:14pm (USA Central)
The who from the what, now? Plot elements from shakedown episodes don't count; the writers didn't know what they were doing.

Unless you also want to insist that James Kirk's middle initial is "R."
Paul - Tue, Jan 21, 2014 - 4:49pm (USA Central)
@Jack and Grumpy: While the Kohn Ma and the Circle were both extremist factions and were about "Bajor for Bajorans," the Kohn Ma seemed to be more of an isolationist group. The character in "Past Prologue" tried to destroy the wormhole, which, at the time, was being declared the Temple of the Prophets.

Winn's involvement with the Circle would have likely made the Circle far more inclined to protect the wormhole while still being against outsiders like the Federation.

So, it's not that hard to believe the Kohn Ma and the Circle wouldn't have been acting together.
Dusty - Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - 4:58am (USA Central)
An absorbing, intriguing 3-parter. The ending was a bit unimaginative and I was disappointed that they killed off Li Nalas. If they were going to do it, they should have done it much later during a major plot arc and shown the Bajorans mourning him, so it meant something. The crew have really made DS9 theirs by now, and the writers show us that in the third episode. An enemy may invade the station, but they'll never take it over. Jaro was a pretty thin character, but the sexual subtext with Winn was palpable and creepy. Once again Winn, like so many religious leaders in real life, is unable to separate her faith from her own power-hungry agenda. At least THAT part of the Bajoran religion was realistic and convincing. (The stuff we saw later on, not so much.)
Yanks - Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - 10:41am (USA Central)
I'm grading all 3 parts of this arc a 3 out of 4 stars.
Jack - Sat, Aug 16, 2014 - 10:44am (USA Central)
Why would anyone believe that Quark has the authority to broker seats on Starfleet vehicles? It was a contrivance with no other purpose than to set up Li Nalas to deliver The Speech.
MsV - Wed, Feb 18, 2015 - 8:14am (USA Central)
Where were the Bajorans who lived on the station when all of this activity was taking place? for Yanks, I know many religious leaders who are not power hungry, they are great humanitarians, in thought and deed.
SamSimon - Sun, Feb 22, 2015 - 1:59pm (USA Central)
Also surprised to see so few comments... I rewatched the trilogy today and found it amazing. So much quality. Of course it's not perfect (Quark in the third episode, the death of Li Nalas...), but it's high quality Star Trek. I agree with Jammer on this (as usual), and I look forward to seeing the rest of the season!
Yanks - Mon, Feb 23, 2015 - 11:25am (USA Central)

What? did I say something here?
MsV - Mon, Apr 6, 2015 - 5:40am (USA Central)
Sorry Yanks, that was for Dusty.
Elliott - Sun, Jul 19, 2015 - 2:44pm (USA Central)
Teaser : ***, 5%

Something I really liked here: Sisko gives the expected speech about the personal relationships Starfleet have forged with their Bajoran colleagues (including an engagement) and how that has motivated him to stay behind, in violation of both orders from his superiors *and* the edict of the new Jarro government; if Sisko were a captain, there might be some uncomfortable exchanged glances etc., but Sisko is only a commander and as such, the immediate reaction of his crew of extras is to start the “rabble rabble.” It's a small detail I found convincing; Sisko has authority sure, but he's not a captain, and that fact is actually relevant here.

Ehhhhhhhhhhhh....I suppose there had to be a counterweight of something stupid to balance the scales here: “The Bajoran assault forces have been told that the Federation is their BLOOD enemy.” What. The. Fuck? Every time the writers try to up the tension with the Bajorans, they make them look like incredibly gullible, disloyal fools. If the assault forces have bought this idea, I can't imagine what possible future these morons hope to build together.

Anyway, Sisko offers to let his crew evacuate—no one takes him up on this—and they get to work preparing for the arrival of Jarro and his lemmings—I mean soldiers.

Act 1 : **, 17%

In the lull created by extending this story over three parts, there is some room for character analysis:

1.Quark and Rom (mostly the former) devise a plan to profit by selling the rare seats evacuating the station [Question: how many people can actually fit onto a runabout? Are there really only a few hundred people on a station many times the size of the Enterprise D? Shouldn't there be many thousands?]
2.Jake and Nog have a restrained goodbye; Lofton is still doing that irritating typical 90s teen performance, but Eisenberg is really handling his rôle well.
3.Keiko is understandably pissed off at Miles for sticking by Sisko on his fool's errand. Miles' use of the slur “Cardies” is unsettling. Seems like the events of “The Wounded” have worn off. Bonus points for Molly being the cutest little girl in the Universe.

So, given their communications blackout, it seems the only way to get information to the Chamber of Ministers is to deliver it directly (as in, in person). Sisko laments that, with all the runabouts being used to evacuate civilians, he can't offer one to be used in this task. Now, I'm no military strategist, but since getting this information to the government would completely end Jarro's hold on it and effectively end the conflict and the threat to the fleeing civilians, wouldn't it make sense to pull one of the runabouts away from evac duty for this purpose? It's not like it will take very long for a runabout to reach Bajor anyway. But again, surrendering to logic would rob us of more clichéd, silly nonsense, so tally ho! They will instead recover some decades-old sub-impulse Bajoran ships. At least this gives us the opportunity to meet Dax 2.0, who has upgraded from the failed stoic-celibate to the party girl she will be remembered for being.

Quark is hauled in, having been caught by Odo for his dealings. You know, I get really tired of people berating Janeway as some sort of unbalanced psychopath when Sisko does things like he does here: he grabs Quark by the throat and literally strangles him, because he's FRUSTRATED. Sigh...Bashir calls right on cue to let us in on the joke (which we all saw a mile away) that Quark “overbooked” his seats. I was too young to know for sure, but I'm pretty sure this is a commentary on aeroline debacles in the 90s.

Okay, this “lull” is starting to get out of hand; a little character work is great, but now we're just wasting time. Can we get on with it please?

Anyway, Li steps up to “be a symbol” I guess by reminding the lemmings—I mean Bajorans—that they, you know, have a responsibility to solve their own fucking problems once in a while. As usual, all the lemmings agree and that's that. Frightened out of their homes one minute, resolute to defend them the next. Seems realistic. Speaking of realistic, Quark shows up to the runabout late, weighed down by his suitcase full of latinum. Turns out Rom (the genius) sold his brother's seat to a dabbo girl. Wahh wahh wahh waaahhhhhh. Gosh what riveting drama and fresh comedy. Anyone else miss Okana?

Act 2 : *.5 , 17%

The extremely vindictive, Naziesque (Hollywood Naziesque anyway), and prejudiced Bajoran forces arrive to a seemingly deserted station. I particularly liked the way the #2 Bajoran emphasises the word “siege”--get it? It's the title! We're so clever. Sisko and co. (out of uniform, by the way) are revealed to be hiding in the air ducts because we dare not skip any cliché which should present itself.

Kira and Dax (the latter also out of uniform) are on some cobweb-infested setpiece passing for the moon where the Resistance's stash of craptacular ships are stowed. Some tired bs about eating spiders, and we're moving on...

Kira : “[The Bajoran engineers] were always building these things without thinking.” Well, that would seem to be the pervading Bajoran idiom wouldn't it? Lack of thought.

As much as I want to hate on the Bajoran #2 for being such a cartoon, he's such a beautiful man, it's difficult to hold that against him. Krim (the #1) demonstrates competence by scanning for the organic material which would identify Odo. Good.

Meanwhile, demonstrating incompetence, a second alternative to Kira's retarded plan presents itself as Jarro calls DS9 on subspace. With Sisko's teams still onboard, one would think there would be a way for them to make contact with the provisional government now that communications have been restored, no?

We close out the act with the previously engaging evil duo of Bitchwhore and Jarro figuratively twirling their moustaches and repeating information we already knew.

Act 3 : **.5, 17%

After Dax and Kira get their lemon started, the Krim and Bajoran #2 (whom we shall refer to as Hotpants) continue their argument about strategy. Like so many villains will eventually do, Krim plays with Sisko's ball...you remember that baseball conjured out of thin air by visiting aliens trying to understand imagination? Yeah...

Anyway, the lights go out indicating Sisko's teams have continued sabotaging the station. After a little break for Miles to make a mockery of Irish cuisine (or remind us why that's not a term we hear very often), Hotpants' search parties zone in on Bashir's team, who ambush and capture them. This whole plot on the station is really pretty pointless isn't it? I mean the only part of the plot that actually means anything is Kira's and Dax' but they've been given the least amount of screentime.

Speaking of which, the ladies are making their way to Bajor when they come under fire from some of Jarro's forces. I did like the use of Dax' tricorder in lieu of functioning sensors as well as the reveal shot in the cockpit window.

Act 4 : *.5, 17%

Sisko's various teams continue to waste time (again, what are they accomplishing at this point besides keeping Jarro away from Li? Wouldn't the same thing be accomplished by sending him far away in a Starfleet runabout?)

You've got to love the abundance of clichés in the Bajor plot: Kira's and Dax' crappy little fighter ship takes dozens of shots from the military vessels pursuing them, but ONE phaser blast from the lemon knocks the military craft out of the sky. Please.... So they finally end up being mortally hit by the other vessel and crashland...somewhere.

Back on DS9...oh Hotpants, you're so pretty and so dumb. He and his men “discover” Sisko, Li and O'Brien in an active holosuite, and don't realise that the men they've captured are holograms. Wow. Because we need more manufactured drama, Sisko informs the captured Hotpants via comm about the Cardassian supply of weapons to the Circle, but does NOT inform Krim in Ops via the same method. Hotpants, being an imbecile, is totally obstinate and does not convey this information to Krim when beamed away, because, it's more “dramatic” that way.

Act 5 : ***, 17%

As tends to happen, one of the two crash-landers is severely injured while the other is perfectly fine. In this case, Kira is badly hurt while Dax refuses her orders to deliver the evidence alone because, you know, she's not in uniform and the Federation “officially left” already. Nice to see Sisko's style of underhanded assbagishness is permeating the ranks.

Finally we get a scene which lives up to the potential set up in the previous chapters: Sisko decides that Li Nalas is the one viable alternative they have to winning over General Krim if Kira and Dax fail (which seems likely). Li's arc is furthered as he's called upon once again to arise from the trenches where he might die for his people and ascend to real leadership where he, as Sisko puts it, has to “live for people.”

Kira awakens, safe and healed at the monastery having been rescued by Driftwood's search parties. Another cliché is invoked as Kira and Dax don Vedek robes to infiltrate the Chamber of Ministers.

Bashir purposefully surrenders his team to Hotpants, apparently giving Li and Sisko the opportunity to ambush Krim in his office.

My personal favourite line, when Kira and Dax enter the Chamber, Bitchwhore delivers a calm “What is this blasphemy?” Hysterical. Interestingly, it seems like Bitchwhore was unaware that the Cardassians were behind the supply of arms to the Circle. Is she being sincere or is this her escape from culpability? It's purposefully ambiguous, which is a good move for her character.

Poor Hotpants is reprimanded by Krim for withholding information from him.

Remember the TNG episode “The High Ground”? While imperfect, the ending of that episode included an attempted murder which showcased the continued cycle of violence from Rutian society would need to escape. That action was justified by the history of conflict presented in the episode. Here, Krim and his forces have been inexplicably turned against the Federation on a visceral emotional level when up until the beginning of this episode, there was no real antagonism shown between them. And why? So Hotpants can pull out his phaser in seething anger at the news of Kira's success and we can have Li die a martyr. “Off the hook” indeed.

We get a little epilogue where Sisko defends the idea of allowing Li's grandiose achievements live on spite of the truth of his life. Bajorans are fond of their myths aren't they? In the words of Doc: “Revisionist history: it's such a comfort!”

Episode as Functionary : **.5, 10%

In a word: padding. Intellectually, the resolution to the setup from the first two parts of this story makes sense and is fine, but that resolution doesn't need more than about fifteen minutes to execute. If this story was going to take three chapters, the writers should have utilised the extra time to work more on the character interplay with Jarro, Bitchwhore and especially Kira, whose examination in “The Circle” is left completely unresolved. Li Nalas proves to be effectively arced out over the trilogy and, while not the most riveting character, makes his mark and leaves the show with his dignity in tact. I can't say the same for poor Quark or, as usual, Sisko. If it were up to me, I would have condensed the episodes into two parts, expunged all the silly action on Cardassia IV and on DS9 with Krim and Hotpants, as well as written another scene between Jarro and Bitchwhore that wasn't just “we are evil.” I really don't know what to make of what these episodes are trying to say about the Bajorans as a people. If anything, they seem more gullible, volatile and irredeemable than before. While the teaser scene made us want to connect with the relationships between the Federation and the Bajorans, the actions of these people do nothing to justify this sentiment. Overall, a lack-luster start to the season.

Final Score : **
William B - Wed, Jul 22, 2015 - 9:53am (USA Central)
Bye, Li. Li's throwing himself into the trenches in "The Circle" is followed by his making an impassioned speech to chill Bajorans out on the Promenade, and finally to Sisko's asking him if he is ready to live for his people rather than die. The irony of course is that for all his protestations, Li *has* become the hero he was supposed to be, in terms of his readiness to sacrifice himself and throw himself into fights, if not his "tactical genius." Li throws himself in front of Sisko to save him from a phaser blast, and on the one hand he is getting himself "off the hook" by dying, but on the other he *is* fulfilling exactly the role he is supposed to play. The problem is that true heroes are not long for this world, always dying for others and all. Li's complex motivations -- he wants out of the role he's trapped in, he wants to live out the role he's been forced into because if he stops being The Hero for one moment he will become a hated pariah, his genuine desire to help others which is brought out by these circumstances -- combine to make his death a fairly natural thing.

Shame though, that his death still comes down to "idiot fires phaser because reasons." Colonel Day is SO STUPID, and the motivation for him to shoot Sisko in a fit of rage are so gossamer-thin as to be essentially invisible. There is wasted potential in Li to continue on the show, for one thing because he's actually as of this episode still the second-best developed (sympathetic) Bajoran character on this series -- Bareil is still a wooden blank, after all. Maybe Beymer didn't want to be on the show for a longer time, but still.

Sisko's choice to declare that Li Nalas is exactly the hero who he was supposed to be and that he died for Bajoran Freedom! is not only annoying in its overt declaration that the Bajorans need to continue to be lied to (spoken by a non-Bajoran), but also a particularly self-serving story. Right -- Li dying to save Sisko and the Federation/Bajoran alliance is dying for "Bajoran Freedom"! That will help turn some opinions, eh commander?

The overall resolution to the Circle/Jaro coup d'etat makes some degree of sense, but I do find it frustrating. I'm really not clear on how this story holds together. Jaro can make a coup d'etat happen with the Circle as his personal army because of weapons supplied. But then he gets military support anyway, which means that he surely didn't even need weapons anyway, and could have just gotten the military's support in the first place. Who is it that withdraws their support when the providence of the weapons comes out? Surely the Provisional Government ministers disapproved of the coup which removed their power by force *before* knowing where the weapons came from, so who is it exactly that holds the keys to the new kingdom, and who can withdraw them when the truth about Cardassian weapons comes to light? Certainly, Winn tactically withdraws her support, and that will do much -- but I'm unclear on whether members of the Circle themselves leave in disgust, or whether it's all a matter of the military now wanting to support the Provisional government, or what.

That the Bajoran military and seemingly a lot of its people would support this coup d'etat which advocated for the removal of the Federation presence on Bajor *until* they found out that the massive weapons influx was Cardassian in nature doesn't exactly say good things about Bajorans, nor about the Bajoran/Federation alliance. The reality that Bajor needs the Federation because if it's not the Federation, it's the Cardassians, is something Bajorans should *still* have been able to recognize even without knowing who was behind their current coup, and is anyway a hard pill for either Bajorans or Federation to swallow. All of which points back to the uncertainty at the core of these Bajoran political episodes: what is it that Bajorans-on-the-ground actually believe? After Neela's statement back in "ITHOTP" that most Bajorans and Starfleet keep to themselves, here we learn that one of the Starfleet officer is engaged to a Bajoran woman, and that all Starfleet officers have close Bajoran ties and will risk their lives to stay where they are not wanted. And you know, I will buy that there are *some* instances of very close relationships and some chilly or outright antagonistic relationships, but there is a tendency for the show to paint in such broad strokes that from line to line the situation goes from "no Bajorans or Federation like each other outside our main cast" to "all Bajorans and Federation love each other outside the scheming politicians."

Kira and Dax working together to deliver the information that the weapons are Cardassian is both a picture of Federation/Bajoran friendship and, I guess, *something* of a continuation of Kira's arc, in that Kira takes big risks and nearly dies to protect the Federation alliance and the truth. Elliott's recently posted comments are right on in that this seems like not actually the best plan -- and even if the Runabouts are full, or at least call in a favour somewhere -- there has to be *some* non-aligned ships that could handle some of the bulk of the evacuations; and it's also a plan that makes what happens on the station essentially irrelevant. But it also reduces on some level to a demonstration of Kira's commitment, friendship and reliance on Federation (via Dax), her own fragile Bajoran history (represented by the sublight craft), and finally on allies on the ground (Bareil). The plan to sneak into the ministers' office in religious garb pays off one small element of Kira's Orb experience, for the record -- Dax in religious garb appears here. Still, little of this pays off what "The Circle" in particular promised about Kira starting to come to terms with her calmer self.

I am still confused as to whose seats it is that Quark was selling. They were people who were convinced to give up their seat to someone else, but the only non-Bajoran who is not a Starfleet officer we see staying on the station is Quark. Maybe a bunch of non-Bajorans locked themselves in their quarters? Or maybe a bunch of Bajorans booked transport early, and then sold to other Bajorans or something. LOL @ Sisko choking Quark. I mean, even Darth Vader mostly force-choked other military personnel and not civilians, or am I misremembering? I wonder if Sisko has choked any *Bajoran* civilians on the station, and if that has contributed to the tensions. Probably.

Overall, a few interesting elements but a pretty wan conclusion to what had been shaping up to be a shaky but decent two/three-parter. I guess 2 stars. (I hope my agreeing with Elliott's ratings of all three parts here doesn't make my write-ups redundant! :) )

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