Jammer's Review

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"Shakaar"

**1/2

Air date: 5/22/1995
Written by Gordon Dawson
Directed by Jonathan West

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"I didn't fight the Cardassians for 25 years just so I could start shooting other Bajorans." — Shakaar

When the First Minister of the Bajoran Provisional Government dies, Kai Winn steps up into his place with intentions of running for office and becoming Bajor's government leader for the next six years. Shortly thereafter, she visits the station and requests Major Kira to convince Shakaar—one of Kira's closest friends and allies from the resistance—to return some rare government-issued farm equipment to be put to more urgent use.

At last, a meaty return to the Bajoran political arc, something that hasn't been directly explored since the opening trilogy of the second season. It's an interesting but slightly unfocused story that doesn't further develop the arc but only presents a short-term problem which is solved within the hour. The long-term effects of the show are negligible.

Beginning as a recap of "Progress" in which Kira is forced into taking the side of the common good over the side of the struggling individual, the episode turns into a confrontation when Winn refuses to listen to the proposals for compromise Shakaar wishes to present. Instead, she sends security forces after Shakaar to arrest him. Kira joins him and finds herself on the run with Shakaar and a number of allies.

"Just like old times," someone comments. Shakaar ends up with a formidable team of followers. As they are chased through a number of valleys and terrain, these characters seem to fall right back into the cat-and-mouse routine of the Cardassian Occupation. Kira's reunion with old friends Lupaza (Diane Salinger) and Furel (William Lucking) talking about old times proves quite absorbing, particularly the early scene at Shakaar's simple residence. However, they recognize the difference between fighting Cardassians and fighting other Bajorans, many of which they battled alongside during the Occupation.

Tensions mount, neighboring providences start taking sides, and an armed militia unit led by Colonel Lenaris (John Doman) begins zeroing in on Shakaar and his team. This is all due to Winn's misguided attempts to be sure order is restored without embarrassment to herself. Winn has the nerve to request Starfleet security backup. Sisko tells her no, then speaks his mind (albeit diplomatically), telling Winn that she is risking civil war over some farm equipment. She retorts with a threat to withdraw Bajor's application to the Federation. At this point, I seriously doubt Winn's ability to be any type of leader of Bajor, whether spiritual, political, or whatever. She's totally incompetent and looks downright evil as she voices that Shakaar will be stopped by any means necessary.

Shakaar and Lenaris' teams meet, and what could've been a deadly phaser fight fortunately ends in a plausible, nonviolent fashion. These two leaders both realize what's at stake, and after 25 years of war with the Cardassians, they know what needs to be done.

The resolution is negotiated off-camera, in which Lenaris disbands the two forces and lets everybody walk, allowing Shakaar and Kira return to the capital with him to talk to Winn. They inform Winn of Shakaar's decision to run for First Minister, and threaten Winn not to enter the election or they will make the entire incident public and destroy her reputation. While it's nice to see Winn get put in her place, the whole showdown is much too neat.

Meanwhile, the story brings up several questions that don't really get answered. For example, why is Shakaar so popular with so many Bajoran groups—enough to be elected their next leader? Why does Winn so extremely overreact to this incident? Why is she willing to risk a civil war? It seems to be for no apparent reason other than to force the confrontation, leading to her being ousted from her newfound position. Unfortunately, this makes Winn even less likable, nullifying any sincere wishes of progress for her world she seemed to have in "Life Support."

Also, why is it Sisko seems completely unannoyed that his first officer goes running around Bajor? I would have liked at least a line concerning the issue in one way or another. And was O'Brien faking his shoulder injury? If not, why didn't he throw the dart with his left hand to win his 47th game?

"Shakaar" has its moments—a welcome return to the political territory, a good vehicle for Kira, and a change in music by freshman composer Paul Baillargeon—but the somewhat unsatisfying conclusion doesn't offer enough in terms of developing the political canvas.

Previous episode: Family Business
Next episode: Facets

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21 comments on this review

AeC - Tue, May 13, 2008 - 8:23pm (USA Central)
While I still think Winn was painted a little too one-dimensionally in this one, events of the previous seven years have made her depiction as a leader more concerned with power than effective leadership and the drive to attain her goals "by any means necessary" a bit unnerving and almost prescient. Were this episode shot today, Winn would almost certainly have said something to the effect of, "You're with us or you're against us," instead of (somewhat inappropriately) co-opting Malcolm X.

Beyond that, it was just strange to see Commissioner Rawls in a Bajoran uniform.
robgnow - Wed, Aug 13, 2008 - 7:55pm (USA Central)
Actually, I think this episode represents Kai Winn pretty well. If you consider all of 'her' episodes, I think you can see a clear character flaw within her: She is over-filled with personal pride.
This issue wasn't about the farm reclamators (or whatever the techno-babble name of them was), but was about the fact that the Province said 'no' to her.
I remember a line of hers (to Sisko, I believe) where she told Opaka that she would gladly look on the faces of God (the wormhole aliens) and the Kai told her to go to her room and meditate... 'And rightly so,' Winn states.
Unfortunately, the lesson appears to not have been learnt by her. Her self-pride continued to taint everything she tried to do until it finally leads to her death.
Destructor - Tue, Jul 7, 2009 - 8:19pm (USA Central)
Agree with robgnow- I like this episode almost precisely because of Winn's no-compromises attitude. And if you don't think a person like that can be a political leader, you don't follow politics.
AeC - Tue, Jul 7, 2009 - 9:12pm (USA Central)
Destructor - never said a person like that couldn't be a political leader; we've seen enough in the last decade alone (to say nothing of far longer in the past) to demonstrate the contrary. My objection was more of a dramatic one - Winn has been depicted in other episodes as having many, many shades of gray that made her a far more interesting character than was on display here. Sure, there are countless instances of monomaniacal insanity and delusion sprouting from people in places of power, but if I want to see that, I'll turn on the news or open a history book. Part of what made DS9 so wonderful was getting to see the inner workings of these monomaniacs and perhaps glimpses of, as Tom Lehrer said about mathematicians, how they got that way. Unfortunately, there just wasn't enough of that shown from Winn in this episode, and I felt it suffered as a result.
vince - Wed, Jul 15, 2009 - 10:41am (USA Central)
I think they are deliberately making Kai Winn into a stereotype, just like Quark. This gives the audience the benefit of always knowing exactly how both will react to a given situation. Yes they are both one dimensional, but it's how the other characters react to them that matters.
Durandal_1707 - Tue, Sep 15, 2009 - 6:26pm (USA Central)
The thing that bugs me about this one is, weren't Shakaar and Kira *also* risking a civil war over some farm equipment?
gion - Wed, Feb 17, 2010 - 10:59am (USA Central)
Yes, they were, but then they had the justification that Winn stabbed them in the back by trying to arrest Shakaar.
I though it was weird that Sisko informed Kira over the first minister's dead. She's supposed the be the liaison officer after all, and surely she ought to be contacted by her own government and she would have to be the one to the relay the message to the DS9's CO.
Half-Blood Time Lord - Wed, Dec 29, 2010 - 8:20pm (USA Central)
RE: Shakaar and Kira *also* risking civil war over some farm equipment.

No, actually, they aren't. They are clearly risking civil war because the current govt is reneging on deals with its own people to satisfy a desire to open commerce with other worlds.
On the face of it, the idea that Bajor could start being a land of commerce is fine, but as Shakaar and the other people showed, that is a few steps away from where the people are. Winn is trying to run before she can walk, she isn't interested in what is best for Bajor, she is concerned with what is best for her place in history.
Lest we forget, this is the same woman whose first episode had her part of a plot to kill Vedek Bariel, her next couple of episodes aligned her with "The Circle", a terrorist group, so she would almost be guaranteed the position of Kai, and then just before this episode, she clearly wanted Bariel to continue the negotiations at the cost of his own life so if they failed, she had a scapegoat, while if they succeeded, she could reap the benefits and kudos.
The only episode she even closely seems to be in the right about is regarding Bariels activities during the Occupation as the evidence does seem to suggest he was a collaborator.
Jay - Sun, Jan 16, 2011 - 3:21pm (USA Central)
Three years in and the government is still "provisional"?
Travis - Thu, Feb 17, 2011 - 10:18am (USA Central)
Jay, they stop calling it that after this episode.
Nic - Thu, Apr 14, 2011 - 10:08pm (USA Central)
Every time I watch that scene, I get the impression that O'Brien is faking the illness to get Quark off his back. But we never actually know for sure, so I guess it's open to interpretation.
Rysik - Wed, Oct 19, 2011 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
It's obvious he is popular because of his sculpted wavy hair. I just skipped all the Bayjor stuff and tried to figure out Miles dart playing luck which wasn't explained. Good blog on this show. It's on netflix so I just stream and skip the annoying parts which can get fairly great. With your guide I usually guess 60% skip for 2 stars, 40% for 3 and 20% for 4. I haven't seen any 5 star yet but unlikely I would not skip any.
Sam - Sat, Oct 29, 2011 - 6:35am (USA Central)
It's out of four stars, not five, buddy.
Cail Corishev - Sat, Sep 15, 2012 - 10:28pm (USA Central)
Winn is pretty one-dimensional here -- that dimension being pride, as someone said -- which is funny, because she had a point until she twisted it. The farmers are wrong, because the reclamators don't belong to them. They were loaned to them by the government, which like all bureaucracies, was late and reneged on its promises. So they didn't get to keep the tools as long as they thought, but that doesn't give them a right to steal them.

Winn was wrong too, on a different level. As someone else said, you shouldn't be trying to export fancy foods when your own people are hungry. That's what happens when the elites get caught up in the game of trade and diplomacy between nations/planets and forget that the ordinary people need things like food and jobs too.
Nick P. - Sat, Nov 3, 2012 - 12:47am (USA Central)
I am going to disagree with all on this episode. Not only do i find Winn interesting, I find her position sympathetic! Look around our own planet right now, countries on every continent that if only that could get the hillbillies to at least pretend they like the rest of the world how much better they would be off.

I am not saying she is completely right, or that Shakaar is NOT sympathetic, but at the end of the day, as someone above pointed out, those ARE government-loaned generators. Winn is correct, at some point you have to face down the anti-government problems on your planet, or you will never get into the federation. How many times on TNG did Picard say some planet or another couldn't get in because one faction disagreed with another faction. I completely sympathize with Winn in this EP.
Jack - Thu, Feb 14, 2013 - 11:06am (USA Central)
I have to agree with Nick P, and for the same reason as I agree with the Son'a over the Baku in Insurrection...as Spock himself said..."the needs of the many...". That's why it was necessary to make the Son'a so mustache-twirlingly evil (and here too, Winn is made more "evil" than usual), to mitigate the fact that they are actually in the right.
Blake W - Sun, Apr 21, 2013 - 8:36pm (USA Central)
I strongly disagree with anyone who says Winn was one-dimensional. She's exactly like SO many politicians in America.. Meaning, her character was very realistic, and it seems insane for people to ask for more than that. She is who she is, and DS9 was such a phenomenal series because the writers didn't sit around saying, "no, we need to make her more this." The characters were who they were
Kotas - Wed, Oct 23, 2013 - 9:04am (USA Central)

I dislike the Bajorans so I have a hard time getting into this type of episode.

4/10
Cheyne - Sun, Nov 24, 2013 - 11:14am (USA Central)
My main criticism here would most definitely be the music... awful.

Besides that, Kai Winn is an awfully loveable villain!

And Kira becomes more and more attractive character-wise as time goes on.
Bravestarr - Fri, Feb 14, 2014 - 2:38pm (USA Central)
I was under the impression that Bashir/O'brien had a deal going on where they would bet against themselves and take all the money that would've been Quarks. The way O'brien seemed annoyed and bemused about finding out about the bet made it seem all the more valid.

While they never showed that this happened I still like to believe that they made off with a substantial profit :)
Eric - Mon, Mar 31, 2014 - 8:44pm (USA Central)
Did it not bother anyone else that the Bajorans don't have division of powers in their society? Wynn can be the pope of the whole planet and its prime minister at the same time. For a species that had civilizations back before man walked upright, they're pretty backward.

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