Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Reckoning"

**

Air date: 4/27/1998
Teleplay by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Story by Harry M. Werksman & Gabrielle Stanton
Directed by Jesus Salvador Trevino

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"From now on, every hour is happy hour—at least until business picks up. Eat, drink, and be merry."
"...for, tomorrow we die."

— Quark and Bashir

Nutshell: Reasonable for a while, with some nice little character touches, but the last two acts are a serious derailment.

"The Reckoning" is full of interesting little tidbits and character elements from past episodes. It's a story that seems promising. I initially thought the payoff would look into Sisko's "penance" that the Prophets, back in "Sacrifice of Angels," said would be required of him.

Well, it was not to be.

This isn't an awful episode of DS9, though it certainly has some awful moments. It's just that with all the chances to make grand connections with earlier stories, it's too bad that "The Reckoning" ultimately adds up to mean so surprisingly little. If this story turns out to actually mean something someday down the road (though I'm not so sure that's likely), I might be more impressed with it. Unfortunately, right now, there's more that's wrong with the plot than there is that's right about it.

The episode might best be labeled the "annual Emissary episode," in the spirit of such shows as "Destiny," "Accession," and "Rapture." However, it's not nearly as good as any of those previous examples because it has a hopelessly silly ending that manages to undermine most of what's good about the rest of the show.

It starts out reasonably enough, to the point I even felt the sensation of promise. As we begin, the Bajorans have unearthed an ancient stone tablet underneath the city of B'hala (even the reference to the city from last season's episode was a helpful bit of continuity). It's 30,000 years old, and it makes a reference to the Emissary in its inscription. When Sisko goes near it, he has a vision: The Prophets tell him, in not so many words, that they require his assistance for an upcoming event, though the nature of the event and what's required of him is initially unclear.

Sisko takes the tablet back to the station to run an analysis upon it and ponder the nature of the Prophets' request and riddles. Subsequently, ominous foreboding rocks the station as the wormhole does some bizarre things, and forewarnings of doom appear in the forms of natural disasters on Bajor—flooding, earthquakes, and tornadoes.

Much of the rest of the episode is a reasonable revisit to the nature of Sisko's relationship to the wormhole aliens, and how he sees himself in that relationship. On that level, "The Reckoning" works for quite a while because it proves to be (with one glaring exception that I'll address in a moment) a nicely characterized little story. Sisko's role in trying to balance the Emissary/Captain duality isn't a particularly new idea, but it was sensible enough as the episode progressed that it made for some believable and intriguing scenes. The dialog served the purpose of reinforcing Sisko's stance on his role in Bajoran beliefs, which is nice to see on just about any day.

Also of interest was the idea that Jake is uncomfortable with his father's role in Bajoran milieu. "This Emissary stuff scares me a little," he admits, in a scene that is strikingly effective through its understated simplicity. Jake's reference to being helpless twice in the course of one year while his father was lying on a bio-bed having visions was a particularly nice touch. Having a father that is a religious icon strikes me as something that can be pretty daunting.

Meanwhile, I thought that the toned-down use of Kira/Odo in the story was sensible. Their scenes together were decent, managing to avoid screaming "We're a couple!" for anyone who missed "His Way" last week. Sure, it was evident they were an item, but not painfully obvious or excessive. Plus, they had some good scenes where both were acting like the characters they've been for the past five years (rather than being utilized in a zany ends-to-means sitcom like in "His Way"), briefly discussing their differing opinions of faith. Nothing between Odo and Kira was worth getting remotely excited about, but it was pleasant and managed to avoid sinking too much into the "writer's novelty value" of having this new relationship.

Then there was Dax, whose whining and acerbic remarks about having to analyze a 30,000-year-old slab of rock came off as quietly amusing in a sarcastic, Dax-like sort of way. Again, there was nothing here that was remotely groundbreaking, but I did get the feeling I was watching the people move the story from A to B rather than just the mechanics of the plot.

Unfortunately, there's one glaring exception to this generality, and that is, strangely, Kai Winn, who was a major disappointment this time around. The story paints her as entirely too self-serving. Once Sisko brings the tablet back to the station, she arrives to protest, saying that he should've asked the vedek assembly before removing it from the dig site. He apologizes, but she can't leave well enough alone, so she contacts Starfleet to complain.

Some of Winn's reactions, admittedly, are believable; I can certainly understand that she would be upset about Sisko's decision not to contact her before taking the tablet, and given their uneasy past I can certainly see where she would feel threatened by "this outsider's" spiritual encounter with Bajoran deities.

Unfortunately, this is too much of a retread, especially when considering the groundbreaking changes in her character in "Rapture" last year (as well as dialog from "In the Cards"). Her actions this week strike me as character regression rather than character development. The beauty of "Rapture" was that it sent Winn's world spinning into the uncertain, and it seemed she would have to question all of her attitudes, the first and foremost being her long-standing conflict with Sisko. In "The Reckoning," however, it seems she has reverted back to her old sense of ever-doubt and skepticism wherever Sisko is concerned; she challenges him at every turn, logs complaints to his superiors. And then, at the end ... but we'll get to that in due time.

In short, this strikes me as petty behavior on the part of the writers when considering what else they could and should be doing. The idea that Winn would go looking for silly conflicts in the middle of the Dominion War—especially when she knows the extent Sisko has fought for Bajor's interests ever since "In the Cards"—is screen time wasted, as far as I'm concerned. I wanted something new, an outgrowth from the Winn of "Rapture." But "Reckoning" takes the well-traveled road—a road that probably shouldn't even be traveled these days.

That brings us to the last two acts, where we realize what this story is all about; or, in other words, where a relatively reasonable episode goes careening off into the absurd. In reality, the payoff for this story isn't really about Sisko, Kira, Winn, Jake, or anyone else. It's about "good versus evil," which is loosely tied to the fate of Bajor in a manner which is both overlarge and simplistic. We learn (I think) that Sisko's only reason for being contacted by the Prophets at the beginning of the episode was so he could take the tablet back to the "gateway to the temple" (i.e., the station) where one good prophet and one evil pah-wraith could be released in order to engage in a prophesized battle to the end known as "the Reckoning." This fight, by the way, holds the possibility of destroying the entire station.

But that's not all: These forces also have to take possession of two bodies to accomplish this, namely Kira's and Jake's—the former because she is willing to serve the Prophets, the latter for reasons that aren't entirely clear. (The episode hints that maybe the Emissary's role in this fight was to offer his own flesh and blood to be possessed, but the connection is never realized.) Kira becomes the "good prophet," and Jake becomes the "evil pah-wraith."

In execution, this is reduced to the absurd, with a special-effects display that goes way too far, threatening to turn the show into a quasi-farce. Kira-prophet and Jake-pah-wraith face off on the promenade in a light-show display that's akin to Exorcist+Poltergeist taken to a much sillier level. And each "possessed" actor is supplied with vocal distortions and contact lenses; Cirroc Lofton as the Jake-pah-wraith has the opportunity to don dark-red eyes as a symbol of evil. Please, give me a break.

Why, may I ask, do the wormhole aliens even need humanoid bodies in order to carry out this conflict? As far as I can tell, their need to take corporeal form is nothing beyond a plot convenience. And the whole final act looks like it belongs in a B movie. I wonder what exactly the creators were going for here. With a station-wide evacuation followed by lines like "The energy building between them could explode at any second!", it comes off as a bad thriller.

Yet, at the same time, we have some key choices made by Sisko, which prove interesting in and by themselves. First is his decision to let the struggle play itself out, knowing that DS9 could very well be destroyed in the process. There's also his decision to permit Jake to be threatened during the body-possession conflict. Sisko shows faith that the Prophets will protect Jake, which is an intriguing touch.

Unfortunately, this is all undermined by a key decision that Winn makes in order to prevent the station from being destroyed. She decides to raise chronoton radiation levels on the station, which forces the prophet and pah-wraith away in mid-struggle. (This tech procedure was established in a previous scene where Sisko decided against doing it in order to ensure the prophecy would follow its proper course.) The moment when Winn raises the radiation features the Kira-prophet shrieking "NO!" in such a way you can practically see down Nana Visitor's throat. Who in the world came up with all this?

For that matter, just how did Winn even gain access to ops? And how is it she happened to know exactly what to do to raise the radiation levels? An even bigger question: Why did she do it? The reasons for her decision are so lacking in realistic motivation that it simply left me confused. The writers seem to think Winn's actions stem from her personal need to "show up" the Emissary and bring a halt to the Reckoning, which apparently causes the disasters on Bajor to cease (which Winn can then "take credit" for). But I wonder why these disasters and wormhole anomalies stopped in the first place, seeing as the Reckoning wasn't completed.

Now, I can't presume to truly understand how fictional Bajoran prophecies work. But I also don't see how Winn could, either. For all she knew, I'm guessing, stopping the Reckoning prematurely could've angered the Prophets to the extent of bringing about the destruction of Bajor. That may be an extreme in the other direction, but using this absurd conflict of higher powers to bring about a neat and tidy indictment of Winn (via Kira's dialog at the end) is just silly—and totally superfluous if that's all the writers planned to do with something so large as the Prophet's "Reckoning." Maybe this will come into play again someday, but I frankly doubt it would make the events here make much more sense.

Ultimately, what "The Reckoning" turns out to be is a story that does a reasonable job of rehashing little character issues we've already dealt with. Sure, these revisits make for nice reinforcements, but the story doesn't offer anything that's truly new, aside from another generic Bajoran prophecy which is used to incite a laughable light show that plays out on the promenade—hardly what I want to see in a storyline involving the Prophets, whom can be used for much more cerebral purposes than a silly and trite game of "good versus evil."

If the Emissary's role in this story had made any sense, the episode might've fared better. But Sisko's role becomes unimportant after the poltergeist game takes control of the plot. The only important character decision of the story becomes Winn's choice at the end, the motivation of which is either so petty or incomprehensible that the whole notion merely comes off as misconceived. As a result, "The Reckoning" comes off as one of the most ineffective episodes this season, if you consider what it apparently set out to do.

Here's hoping the season finale gets to the real crux of Sisko's supposed penance to the Prophets of Bajor.

Next week: An experimental crew of cadets helms the USS Valiant ... and they get in over their heads.

Previous episode: His Way
Next episode: Valiant

◄ Season Index

47 comments on this review

Jakob M. Mokoru
Thu, Nov 22, 2007, 2:10am (UTC -6)
"Star Trek" goes "Charmed" - bah!
Jakob M. Mokoru
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 8:02am (UTC -6)
Well, I've just rewatched this episode and I still hate it. Really, I don't see how on earth you can give this absolute crap two stars! Compared to this, even "Let He Who Is Without Sin" is almost more watchable. I'd give the reckoning a half star at best!
EP
Fri, Mar 6, 2009, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
I remember watching this on a Saturday with my brother. We were playing cards as well and weren't playing close attention to the show. At the end of the episode, where the possessed Jake and Kira have their Force lightning battle on the promenade, we looked at each other and said, "Eh? What? Did we miss something?"

Watching it for only the second time, ten years later, it sucked even more than I could possibly remember. Solitaire would have been more engaging.
Jayrus
Fri, May 1, 2009, 4:14am (UTC -6)
Wow... Was I the only person who liked this episode? I admit they could have picked a better effect to have the showdown with, but everything else seemed good. In fact, Kai Winn was the highlight of the show for me.

Jammer complained Winn was too petty in this episode, and that after Rapture she wouldn't have behaved this way. I think he fails to see what a despecable creature Winn really is. She's never had true faith, nor has she ever cared about anyone but herself. She's a self-serving politician who believes she should be the star of the show. Basically she's a female bajoran version of Dukat. She has the same need to be loved. To be the hero, and to be greater than everyone else that Dukat has, and she tells herself the same lies as Dukat to rationalize her actions. In fact, I found it hilarriously ironic that she accuses Sisko for using the prophets as an excuse to justfy his actions, when she's been doing the same thing HER WHOLE LIFE.

Aqnyway, to understand why she did what she did at the end, you have to look at what happened to her. She finally became Kai, but had to share the spotlight with Sisko who had become Emissary. So she tried to become First Minister, but was forced to yield to Shakaar. Then, Sisko discovers B'Hala, and she gets pushed even further out of the spotlight.

Then, after Sisko starts the Reckoning, she gets the mother of all snubs when the Prophet in Kira, one of her GODS, won't even speak to her. At this point she's completely shattered spiritually. She decides to defy her gods and screw Bajor out of a golden age just so she can feel important again and tell people that SHE saved bajor, DS9, the Emissary's own son, and stopped the disasters. THIS is what Winn is. She has no spirituality. No kindness, and no desire to help anyone but herself. She's just a self serving arrogant toad, and her only desire is to be more important than everyone else. That's why she always causes trouble, and makes big arguements out of little things. She has to be the center of attention.

No, getting back to the episode, I think the whole thing was to show who Winn really was at her core, and to set her up for her fall to the pagh-wraiths later on. As for the battle itself. I think the use of Kira as the vessel of the prophets, a woman who has genuine faith, and the humilty to wonder why she would be worthy (Which Odo rightly says is why she was chosen) and the Descision of Kosst Amojan to posses Jake was exactly right. What better way to torture the Emissary and break his faith then to use his own son to fight the final battle against his gods? As for why they even needed bodies to do this. I admit that was a bit of a stretch, but perhaps they decided since the battle would determine the future of corporeal beings, they should take corporeal form.

Anyway, my point being that this episode is in no way as terrible as most people seem to claim. Yes the battle itself wasn't the best, but it was the build-up and at least for me, the confrontation between Kira and Winn after that made the episode for me.
Jay
Fri, Sep 4, 2009, 11:11pm (UTC -6)
I kinda liked the episode just on presentation, but I have to agree with Jammer as to where this episode fits into the otherwise clearly laid out "plan" for Sisko. Specifically, what would have transpired differently had Winn not intervened here? Would the wormhole not have closed a few episodes later? Would Sara not have been relevent? Would Dukat not have undertaken his strange quest masquerading as a Bajoran? Would Sisko not have needed to go be noncorporeal? What did this Reckoning have to do (or not do) with these other events, all of which seemed predestined?
Destructor
Sun, Nov 22, 2009, 6:57pm (UTC -6)
Yeah we watched this last night and thought it was pretty epic- almost like a season finale. Had heaps going on, and tied nicely into the final ten-episode arc, as well as having ties to previous episodes like Rapture and the one where Keiko is possessed. I'd give it three stars at least.
Aldo Johnson
Fri, Nov 27, 2009, 9:06am (UTC -6)
I just watched the episode on DVD. I didn't have the luck of being able to watch the original showings. All these spoilers just spoils my watching mood. :-)
Alexander
Fri, Dec 4, 2009, 9:56pm (UTC -6)
This episode has some major weakness and internal hokiness, but on a second viewing I think it's fairly decent. Good Odo-Kira stuff, for one thing, building a real trust and mutual connection in small moments and big ones. After the decidedly mixed 'His Way' presentation, this works better.

Also, while the nature of the Prophets' plans and simplistic good vs evil--Bajoran golden age is extremely hokey, it benefits a lot in rewatching from making Kai Winn such a central character. Knowing what eventually comes of her in S7, I think one of the most pivotal moments in the series occurs when Prophet-Kira greats the Emissary, announces the Reckoning. Then Winn goes to the Prophet, offers her unconditional services--and is totally annoyed. Looking at her face at that moment, I think this is when the utter pride masquerading as faith expresses itself most definitely. It's a moment that makes every twisted act she did in the past, and her final betrayal of the Prophets for the paghwraiths, credible.
Vince
Mon, Feb 22, 2010, 6:42pm (UTC -6)
Seems like the writers went to sleep during the second half. It wouldn't have been so bad if it had not set up such great expectations at first. The whole series suffers from not following through with the prophets, the Bejorans, and Sisko's role, not just as a pawn of the worm hole aliens, but as a architect of a new Bejore.

Wonder where Jammer finds the spellings for all these Trekie names ??
Nic
Sun, Jul 18, 2010, 5:36pm (UTC -6)
I guess my problem with this episode is the same problem I had with the ending to "Waltz" (which at least had good characterization for its first 3/4 and great acting throughout): the writers seem to be slowly coloring in all the wonderful shades of gray that DS9 has always done best - especially in its early seasons - and turning everything black-and-white. First Dukat, then Kai Winn and now the prophets/pah-wraiths. In "The Assignment" I thought the pah-wraiths raised a lot of interesting moral questions. But instead of adressing those questions, the writers thought it would be better to make the pah-wraiths "pure evil". Sorry, I've seen good vs. evil so many times in my life, IT'S BORING.
Greyfeld
Tue, Oct 4, 2011, 3:21am (UTC -6)
I don't think I'll ever understand why some people seem to think that Kai Winn was anything other than a self-serving bitch. Every single time I've seen her on the screen, she's been trying to weasel her way into or out of something. And every single time she's appeared to be sympathetic or reasonable, that snake of a smile appears on her face, reminding me that no matter how saccharin she acts, she's still selfish and the closest thing to evil this side of Dukat himself.
Nathan
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
I think it would have been a much better ending if Kira had said something like what Jake said - that all she could feel was the prophet's hate for the pah wraith. Then she would have examined her beliefs and realized that even good people can become hateful.
Justin
Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 10:23pm (UTC -6)
Unfortunately, this is where the story of the Prophets started to really veer into comic book/cartoonish territory. It's not awful, but someone rightly pointed out that a show that had established itself in nuance and shades of grey has no reason to go in this direction at all.

I also agree with Jammer that the regression of Winn's character back to self serving bitch was unfortunate. I miss the Winn of "Rapture" and "In The Cards." I liked the Winn who reminded Kira that she too suffered at the hands of the Cardassians during the occupation and made actual real sacrifices. It would have been nice to see her character continue her redemption. Still headstrong and at odds with Sisko, but not the wicked hag she ends up as.
Justin
Thu, Apr 26, 2012, 8:30am (UTC -6)
I find it a bit disturbing that the writers chose this script over other more "schlocky" options. Per Memory Alpha:

[Thompson and Weddle felt that the story should be handled very much like a horror movie, and when they told Behr the direction they were heading in, he loved it and told them "It's Godzilla versus Mothra, with a mummy movie opening."]

Umm yeah...and why would this be a good thing to introduce into a man story arc? Save it for a holodeck episode, yeesh.
Jerome
Sat, Jun 15, 2013, 11:03pm (UTC -6)
Just watched it again on DVD. I think it's a solid episode and I've always liked how DS9 explores faith and the Federation. For me it questioned WHY people wanted to interact with the prophets. Yes, for Sisko it is wisdom. He wants to know how best to serve them--an evolution for him. For Odo, it was about respecting the woman he loved enough to let her follow through on giving her life for her faith. For Jake, sheer fear on losing his father to a radicalism that threatens Sisko's life too many times. For Dax, a problem when a Federation leader has spiritual tendencies. He threatens the current conflict and Bajor's safety. Finally Winn--who has never spoken directly to the Prophets or been spoken to by them.--a chance to either hurt them, or maybe--in a weird way--to try and show how faithful she could be to Sisko-- who would seem to appreciate her move more. I truly didn't know if she had a change of heart or not. I watched it as Kira misjudging her. But realize that Winn will act to make herself more "appreciated" in S7. She will do anything to be beyond mere mortal interaction with the prophets. She's seeking a spiritual high. An importance that proves her worthiness. She wants a prophet to say she is good. I can see both a good intention --saving DS9 and Jake and Sisko, and a bad intention--getting back at Sisko and the Prophets by thwarting this battle. I also love that Sisko must ask himself if he's willing to sacrifice Jake to win. And he was. And this to me moved Winn and Sisko into their camps pre-S7. Sisko would be more Religiously devoted and Winn would be irreversibly more self-centered. Irredeemable.
ProgHead777
Tue, Aug 6, 2013, 1:58am (UTC -6)
I don't find Kai Winn's vacillations unrealistic. She seemed from the beginning to be someone who is torn between her faith (which is obviously not now and maybe never was as pure and unshakable as she professes it to be) and her ambition for power and/or greatness. It's not hard to imagine, as she's sitting on Bajor realizing more and more she's been relegated to second banana status and might remain so until the end of her reign, that the ambitious side of her is taking over. She's trying to assert herself because she's realizing that she may end up hardly more than a footnote in the Bajoran history books.
Elnis
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 5:26pm (UTC -6)
When Kira, possessed by a "prophet", walks over to Sisko on the promenade, there was a moment where I expected her to say:

"Choose the form of the destroyer!"

DS9 meets Ghostbusters - I liked it!
Yes, Star Trek is mainly about moral issues, but once in a while I really long for some cool sci-fi action to give me a break from all the endless talking.
Both Kira and jake looked awesome in their possessed state - not just the eerie contacts lenses and the neat fireworks, but their whole attitude. I was excited!

My only regret is that the build-up for this sweet fight scene didn't really succeed in getting the epic nature of the stand-off across ... not in terms of tension and atmosphere. Could've been done better. We should've learned earlier what this whole prophecy was actually about, and the two entities should've been build up to seem more menacing.

Much of the rest of the story is a bit of a mess, going on in different directions without conclusing much about anything.
And Avery Brooks whimping on the promenade as he watches his possessed son losing a fight between Titans ... man, that was horrible! What a terrible performance by Brooks!

But other than that, I liked it. Once in a while it's nice to get some straight-up good vs. evil action - saves us from suffocating in all the concoluted little plot points floating around the quagmire we call "the grey area". I like the grey area ... but sometimes it just gets too tangled up in it's own juices.

hen we need the Ghostbusters to step in and blow stuff up!

Go Egon Spengler!
Kotas
Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 2:35pm (UTC -6)

Don't like Bajoran religion eps.

3/10
Cthulusuppe
Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 2:47am (UTC -6)
I noticed that one of your major complaints about this episode is the lack of comprehensible motive for Winn's actions. I thought her motives were pretty clear, but no one here's really pinned them down, so here's my theory:

Earlier in the episode Winn reveals that when the golden age begins there will be no need for Vedics, Kais or even Emissaries. Whether the Profit won the conflict or lost, the outcome was lose/lose for Winn. Best case scenario: the prophet wins the Reckoning and Winn is stripped of everything she's accomplished in her life. All that power, all that influence, it would all be gone. And unlike every other character on the show, she had no back-up career to fall back on.

Her best option was a stalemate, so when Dax gets distracted by some orphans, she makes a mad dash to Ops in order to force that stalemate. Her motivations for doing so make sense to me, especially considering how ambitious she's always been.

Now, what I don't understand is why she'd brag about it afterwards. DS9's writers have always had an odd habit of writing their villains so that they're proud of their reprehensible actions, so I guess it's par for the course... But it does seem kinda dumb for a religious leader to advertise her lack of faith.

TL;DR: Kai Winn stopped the Reckoning because she feared a future where she was no longer Kai.
Ward3
Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 9:51pm (UTC -6)
I agree entirely with Cthulusuppe. Kai Winn was afraid the reckoning would remove all her power, her career, her life's work. She had to stop it if she wanted to have any prestige remaining.

I actually don't mind this episode. It's not the best episode. It's not even the best religious episode. The sight of possessed Kira though, whoa!!

This starts a number of episodes where I am very impressed at the maturity of Odo and Kira together - they trust and respect each other and in general have so little petty bickering stuff, so few arguments. I am totally impressed with Odo supporting Kira and her faith and her decisions though he has no experience of this on his own. Very mature.
Trent
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 11:46am (UTC -6)
How cringe worthy are the scenes where Sisko talks to "aliens" inside his head? Eeeek. This business with the pahwraiths and prophets could have been good if they were dramatised/visualised better. Having DS9's crew "possessed" by "god aliens" is a bit hokey.
Lionheart
Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 7:55pm (UTC -6)
I can't say I hated this episode. I do think that Winn's motivation for stopping the battle seems completely out of place. I mean, sure, she would not like losing her power, but I'm pretty sure she still cares about the Prophets and her religion.

I did not find the fight between the Prophet and the Pah-wraith cringeworthy at all. I liked visually being able to tell that Nerys and Jake were possessed. I have no idea why they needed bodies to fight, but there might be some reason behind it, who knows.

What's more concerning is that nobody even contests that these wormhole aliens are gods. Who ever said they were? And why should they be allowed to do what they do? I'm with Bashir on this one. DS9 getting more and more religious... not sure I like it.
Adam
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 4:13am (UTC -6)
Why Jake? That's easy: The pah-wraiths know Jake is the one person in the universe whom Sisko cares for most. How better to test the faith of the Emissary than to (apparently) force him to sacrifice his son? I would guess the pah-wraiths feared that they would lose the battle and never get back to the Celestial Temple, and they wanted to compel Sisko to either throw the fight or postpone it, either way saving Jake.

Why the regression of Winn? I don't believe her "progression" ever happened. She looks at her position — cleric, Vedek, Kai — as a career, not a calling. Every position is a rung on the ladder, every opponent an obstacle to overcome. She became Kai not because she genuinely deserved it, and certainly not because her faith was purest, but because she knew how to get the competition to fail. Remember that Kira is the sum of faith plus humility, making her an adequate vessel for the Prophet. Winn is not humble. She wanted to see the Prophets with her own eyes, so Kai Opaka told her to sit in darkness for a day. Winn did not learn her lesson. Praying to the Kira-Prophet was the equivalent of a politician kissing a baby. Sisko's faith was stronger. Kira's faith was stronger. Winn was faced with the fact that she was, as she had always been, a second-rate cleric with delusions of grandeur who rose to a position far above her level of competence. That's not villainy. That's life. The fact that she could not accept it, and could not allow anyone to know her failure — that's villainy.

This episode does, of necessity, rely on the Reset Button. Of course the Prophet couldn't win: The series would be over within two weeks. Of course the pah-wraith couldn't win: The series would lose most of its standing sets. Kira couldn't die. Jake couldn't die. The big events of the episode just aren't that important. Only Winn really matters and leaves the episode changed. While Sisko and Kira and the others go on as they've always been, Winn *chooses* to put her pride ahead of her faith, and that's a surprisingly huge victory for the pah-wraiths even in the technobabble stalemate. By choosing pride, Winn opens herself to evil. This episode is a lynchpin for the Bajoran arc in season 7 and deserves far more than 2.5 stars.

3.5, now. And it misses 4 only because the epic battle on the promenade still looks like two severely constipated folks trying desperately to move the mail.
Toraya
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 3:11am (UTC -6)
Hated the episode, but love and appreciate many of the above comments. Apparently there was depth, subtlety and good characterization going on, and I just didn't see it.

I admit I have never seen any shades of gray in Winn and don't see her in Dukat's league as some suggest. Dukat's villainy is balanced by his charm, patriotism, love of family, occasional heroism, and frequent vulnerability/suffering. For these reasons, i endlessly root for his redemption. Winn has never been given any attractive qualities, so I only root for her to get off the screen.
eastwest101
Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 6:53pm (UTC -6)
Its a shame that Jammer and others cannot accept or deal with the surprise twist in the form of Kai Winn's motivations, it was all internally consistent for me. I just saw the episode and was actually quite impressed - the whole thing worked really well for me. A few genuine surprises and interesting to see Sisko take some interesting and unexpected decisions.

Brookes doesn't overact, Visitor and Auberjonis are written well despite the slapdash work in previous episodes to put them together, they work here.

This one will be appreciated and re rated more and more as time goes on, and I am not even a fan of the Bajoran religious stuff in DS9...
Nick P.
Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 1:34pm (UTC -6)
OK, so this episode is seriously bad, and even more shockingly bad because I feel that show had been on a solid run of about 10 truly great episodes. And sorry, but the beginning wasn't good, the whole episode was really bizarrely acted, I feel like the whole case over acted when they should have been subtle, and than fell asleep when they should have been over acting.... Anyways, I am on the side of Winn here also..sure, I liked her development in Rapture, but I think her reactions were completely justified when Sisko STOLE a priceless artifact from Bajor. Seriously think about, the Pope may love Barack Obama, but how would he feel if some Archeologist found priceless relics of jesus himself in the Vatican, and the Obama just stole them back to Washington? He wouldn't be happy!
Robert
Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
@Nick - Your analogy is severely flawed. It's more like the pope being annoyed that JESUS took a priceless relic from the Vatican.

A city that Sisko found via visions from her gods has a slab in it with a message addressed to him and when he takes it back to the station because he believes they want him to she accuses him of PLUNDERING her planet's relics and tattles to his superiors? Really?

And then when he smashes it she thinks he did it to be petty and vindictive. Which is spot on, because she could totally see herself doing that.

Essentially you've got this space pope that is alive during the coming of the messiah and she's pissed about it because, in her own words, the prophets have never even spoken to her. And then when the prophet actually arrives on the station it totally ignores her.

It's a brilliant arc for her and sets up her ultimate betrayal in the finale, but she hardly has a leg to stand on. The emissary took a slab addressed to him from a city the prophets led him to. She's being petty and selfish and power hungry. Which is totally right for her character, but I can't see how you'd ever think it made sense to agree with her.
Vylora
Thu, May 8, 2014, 5:33pm (UTC -6)
I absolutely hated this episode when it first aired specifically because of the Prophet/Pah-Wraith standoff and the seemingly inconsistent characterization of Kai Winn. Watching it now and understanding it a little better, I can actually appreciate it for what it is. I still find the battle rather hokey, albeit, pretty. But I no longer view inconsistencies in Winn's character. I would go into more detail but I would be redundant. Jayrus in a much earlier comment took the words right out of my mouth.

I still agree with the bulk of Jammers review on this one, however, especially concerning things like Winn knowing exactly how to activate the chroniton radiation and so on. I also agree that the show adeptly fires on all four cylinders for the majority of the episode. And I further agree with some of the intriguing comments here as to why corporeal bodies were needed and other minutiae involving the battle.

All that being said, I kind've like this episode. It's an interesting re-examination of tried and true plot threads with intriguing new elements added. Some great dialogue and interpersonal chemistry are highlights as is the overall pacing and direction. Some hokey-ness near the end stops this one from being a real winner but not enough to completely undermine the episode as a whole.

3 stars.
Elliott
Thu, May 8, 2014, 5:49pm (UTC -6)
@Vylora :

The main problem with this episode is that it serves as the alternate template in dealing with the Prophets to "Far Beyond the Stars." This episode for ever cemented the Bajorans' gods as Dragonball Z monsters with the most cartoonish of motivations possible. Here the stage was set for the groan-inducing final season with all its EPIC BATTLE FOR HEAVEN theatrics. Blegh.
Yanks
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 12:00pm (UTC -6)
Jammer,

"Kai Winn, who was a major disappointment this time around. The story paints her as entirely too self-serving."

"Unfortunately, this is too much of a retread, especially when considering the groundbreaking changes in her character in "Rapture" last year (as well as dialog from "In the Cards"). Her actions this week strike me as character regression rather than character development."

This is only true of you've been fooled into believing that Winn had ever "progressed". She most certainly has not, ever. She's always been a self-serving egotistical bitch. Now she KNOWS the prophets see through her veil as well. She only has verbally capitulated on occasion because she had no choice or she needed to attempt to save face. She's not only faithless, she's also talentless. Her actions while she was First Minister clearly demonstrate that.

Now, on to this episode. Aside from the "battle" at the end, this episode is well done I think and after reading all the comments here the choices for the participants in this battle made sense. I still don’t know why they needed corporeal bodies, but one can question just about everything in Star Trek on that same level if they chose. Some things you just have to accept. Kira being selected as a portal was perfect 9and well played), Jadzia’s humor was on key and enjoyable, Jakes special moments worrying about losing his dad again were priceless.

While we all love the "shades of grey" that DS9 has given us, there is room for good old black and white "good vs evil" as well.

I'm not sure why some have an issue with the "red eyes". The PW's have always been red since we learned of them. They were red when they were purged from the celestial temple.

If I were Star Fleet I would have told Winn to pack sand with regard to the artifact. How many times has Sisko/Emissary saved Bajor? Screw her.

This isn't a classic, but I think 2.0 stars is epically low.

3.5 stars for me.
$G
Sun, Oct 12, 2014, 8:01pm (UTC -6)
I was expecting to hate this one, too, but I didn't at all.

As mentioned, the first three quarters of the episode are solid, with nice character touches for Sisko, Kira, Odo, Jake, and even Winn. The last quarter... I don't hate. It's straight up comic book DS9 in presentation - and I think it'll always be at odds with its more thoughtful social commentary stories.

This ep DOES work for me, but it's notably different in tone from what we've seen so far with this storyline (minus "The Assignment", which may as well have been any body snatching Trek story for as much as we knew about the Wraiths back then). Though it may sound odd, there is something a bit more sight-unseen about episodes like "Destiny", "Rapture", and even "Far Beyond the Stars". Up until now, the Prophets/WAs still came off as aloof other-dimensionals, on par with Q or Nagilum or any other godlike Trek entity. The tone finally changes here. I'm not totally comfortable with it, especially the implication that Bajor's natural processes are governed via... magic? That said, I don't outright dislike it either, though I feel like I should. I guess there's something to be said for a universe in which this kind of thing isn't necessarily uncommon, but I understand why something so wacky is so important to one of the show's main narratives.

This gets a 3 stars with an asterisk from me. I think it's a good episode that holds together, but it's potentially pretty alienating when it doesn't necessarily have to be. Do we really need Star Trek's take on well-worn gods vs devils story? Probably not.
$G
Sun, Oct 12, 2014, 8:04pm (UTC -6)
Argh, so much for proofreading.

The last sentence of the second paragraph should read:

"I guess there's something to be said for a universe in which this kind of thing isn't necessarily uncommon, but I understand why something so wacky being so important to one of the show's main narratives causes problems."
Charles
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 5:51pm (UTC -6)
"This will be the end, or the beginning"

Interesting, for aliens supposed to be out of linear time.
Robert
Fri, Dec 19, 2014, 6:19am (UTC -6)
"Interesting, for aliens supposed to be out of linear time. "

They should understand linear time as well as Sisko does. Since he explained it to them!
MsV
Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
I liked to fact that the prophets ignored Kai Winn. She wanted acknowledgement so badly. Its ironic that she said she knew the prophets meant that the Emissary was the cause of the problems the Bajorans were having and they wouldn't even acknowledge her presence nor would they answer her questions. I also hated Dax's insistence that Sisko not let the battle be fought on the Station and that they were trying to kill Jake. Ignorance is not bliss, he dismissed her and the Kai harshly. Dax assumes because they are friends her words go further than the prophets.

I liked this story.
Del_Duio
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 12:05pm (UTC -6)
Not a bad episode, more Pah Wraiths and Bajoran hocus pocus but I never had a problem with that side of the show like some.

And for the naysayers:

At least blue-eyed Kira is pretty hot.
Not like brown-eyed Kira isn't either but oh well.
Norvo
Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 11:41pm (UTC -6)
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the gateway to the temple... Deep Space Nine?"

... Well, don't mind if I do, Dax. That line always felt like cheating on the writers' part, a way of adding artificial tension and drama to the story. Throughout the series, the (mouth of) the wormhole is considered the gateway to the Celestial Temple, not the man made space station that was moved towards it.

For example, revisit "The Assignment" in which the Pah'Wraith possessed Keiko flew a runabout to the mouth of the wormhole in preparation of killing the Prophets. Or season 3's "Destiny" where another Bajoran prophecy claimed three vipers would "burn the temple gates", and that turned out to be three comet fragments that passed through the wormhole.

But, like Bashir said in The Reckoning: "The ancient prophecies are a tangle of vague contradictions".
dlpb
Sun, Jun 14, 2015, 2:22pm (UTC -6)
The only good part of this episode was Kai Winn angry at Sisko for destroying the artefact. The rest was a badly acted, badly scripted, and totally misguided episode. What the hell are the writers on? This is supposed to be a sci-fi, not Harry Potter! And will someone please wheel Avery Brooks away ("I knoooow!!").

Dusty
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 4:18am (UTC -6)
The Emissary/Bajoran religion stuff was always the least interesting part of DS9 and that didn't change here. Sisko was already an important figure in StarFleet; he didn't have to be a demigod too. I'll take Winn and Bareil and their religious politics, because that at least was realistic. But the stuff about Sisko having visions and the Prophets talking to him just got ridiculous after a while.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Feb 6, 2016, 11:31am (UTC -6)
A lot of exposition for a sub-Ghostbusters finale. On the debit side we have what is normally a carefully nuanced show getting into a binary good-evil conflict between energy beings. Hmmmm, OK. You have to wonder whether the non-interventionist wormhole aliens have been unambiguously 'good' up to this point. It's certainly all getting a bit metaphysical.

On the other hand we have some good performances and some nice dialogue. But not great overall. 2 stars.
William B
Sun, Feb 21, 2016, 8:55am (UTC -6)
There are some good moments in this episode, but overall count me among the people who think this is mostly a failure. As a one-off demon possession story in "The Assignment," the Pah-Wraiths worked okay, but their entry into the larger Prophets story serves to remove what potential was left in the Wormhole Aliens for the rest of the series. What was interesting about them in "Emissary," even if dubious in execution, is their alien-ness, the idea of being out of linear time. Now they are these figures of mythic Good Vs. Evil battling on a grand stage, and needing the station to do so. (STV is of course a failure as most agree, but I can't help but wish Kirk were here to say "What does God need with a space station?") The WA's alien-ness is removed and the spiritual conflict is reduced to the simplest possible level. And, you know, all we have to go on that the Prophet vs. Pah-Wraith conflict *is* a good vs. evil one is the different glowy colours of the eyes for Kira and Jake, as well as Jake's closing dialogue about how he felt the PW's hatred. (Yeah, being trapped in a tablet for thousands of years will do that to you -- or maybe it's a metaphysical representation of evil!) We also have the prophesy that Bajor will enter a long period of peace after the Reckoning, which, okay? The WAs waited and did nothing during the Occupation so that eventually someone would go along and smash that one tablet that contained those two aliens who were going to fight using vessels and that would mark the beginning of a new age?

The episode also suffers because it is dramatically flat -- previous Sisko-and-the-Prophets episodes had him having definite beginning and end points within the episode, which at least allowed for some change (if not necessarily for the better). This one, he begins with a total devotion to the Prophets, to the point where he is apparently mind-controlled to take the tablet and then smash it in a brief flurry of anger which itself is created by the Prophets apparently, and then he continues to be a man of absolute faith even while his son is taken hostage. Sisko insists that the Prophets won't hurt his son, which...well, let's be frank, Ben, it's not like the WA occupying Kira's body said that. More in a minute. At least in "Rapture" there was some degree of push-back from other people with some degree of power. It is true that it makes sense for Starfleet et al. to give the WAs a wide berth given their extreme power level (and I guess since they "owe" them for "Sacrifice of Angels"), but still. (I revisited the Cynic's review of this, and he mentions that if Starfleet is willing to do anything to appease the WAs it could really develop into a Dominion-type situation, with the WAs as Founders.) Besides Sisko and Kira -- and Odo, who was in Kira's corner -- most of the crew did oppose Sisko's decision to some degree, but no one exactly could do anything about it, or even threaten, which means that for most of the story none of our main cast are even active agents -- Sisko mostly just does what the Prophets "want him to," and the others stand by. The brief debate about what Kira would want is appreciated, but I do wish that Bashir or Dax pointed out that Jake wouldn't consent to being the incarnation of a Pah-Wraith and that they should flood the deck with Chroniton radiation for that sake.

I liked Winn's role in this episode for most of the running time; while it felt there was a bit of a weird reset to pre-"Rapture" dynamics here, for the most part Winn's objections to Sisko's rash behaviours were on-point, expressed in an appropriate-to-the-character condescending manner. "Rapture" showed how Sisko's religious belief (fanaticism) brought him closer to Winn, and now it tears them further apart specifically because they both have strong religious beliefs but which contradict each other -- "I felt like smashing it, ergo I was meant to smash it!" from Sisko goes up against "there are random earthquakes, therefore the Prophets want you to bring the tablet back to Bajor," and frankly without any actual evidence both statements seem about equally plausible. How can this religious conflict be resolved? Answer: turns out Sisko's right and Winn's wrong. Oh well. That said, Winn's turnaround at the very end makes no sense to me. I understand the argument that Winn flooded the deck with radiation because she didn't want a world where she wasn't Kai, but I did not detect that level of concern in her tone while she was telling Kira that Bajor will have no need of Vedeks or Kais, and as ambitious as Winn is I don't believe that she would turn around on a whim like this and decide to destroy Bajor's upcoming Golden Age for that reason, at least without a rationalization. The only thing that sort of makes sense to me is that Winn actually was afraid that the Pah-Wraiths were going to win, in which case it is still a "failure of faith" but of a different sort, an understandable fear of the consequences if the battle is lost. However, you know, Winn runs out when Kira-Prophet is absolutely winning, so I don't get it. Given that this is one of the only moments in the episode where one of the characters someone makes a full-on choice, it's a major problem that it is not believable.

Anyway, Sisko's willingness to risk his son's life is surely a major development, which shows the depth of his faith, but here the episode frustrates me greatly. Sisko claims that the Prophets will protect him, and I have no idea why he claims this except as rationalization -- do the Prophets have that kind of sense of meaning of individual life? Moreover, as I said before, it's actually not *just* Sisko's choice what happens to Jake -- and in fact, that Jake has his life risked because his father is a true believer and so gets the automatic say is rather disturbing. That Jake is absolutely certain that the Pah-Wraith was so evil that it must be destroyed, even if Jake dies, means that he doesn't hold anything against Sisko, which certainly makes Sisko's choice much easier. I would really have admired the episode had it gone a different direction, and had Jake outright angry at his father, maybe even unable to forgive him, for basically throwing him to the wolves for an abstract spiritual struggle of unknown meaning, choosing the Prophets over him *again* -- and I think this would have been consistent with the way the story has danced around the conflict between Sisko's Emissary status and his fatherhood ("Rapture," metaphorically "The Visitor"). Also, it would be consistent with Jake as someone who genuinely doesn't want to risk death even for heroic reasons ("Nor the Battle to the Strong") and Jake who in LITERALLY THE EPISODE AFTER THIS ONE says "That's right. All I care about is Jake Sisko and whether or not he's going to be killed by a bunch of delusional fanatics looking for martyrdom." That Sisko believes that the Prophets/Pah-Wraith struggle is important enough to die for is one thing, that he may be willing to risk his son another; but that Jake has no qualms about letting himself die for this, or his father putting this conflict between aliens over his life, is quite another. Jake is not Starfleet, he's not Bajoran, he's not religious, and in this episode he pointed out how much this stuff scares him. The ending removes a potentially interesting tragedy, but not convincingly. And let's add to all this -- it's not like Jake *had to die* for the Pah-Wraith to be contained -- his life was in danger only because Sisko smashed the damn tablet in the first place.

And boy what a goofy light show. That's not what kills the episode -- in some ways it's no more an abstraction than the ship battles, which frequently have no real strategy and so are mostly special effects shows that are meant to represent the idea of combat -- but it doesn't help that it looks ridiculous.

On the plus side, while I don't support Kira's blind faith, and neither does Odo, I appreciate that Odo was fully honest about it and was willing to let her die for her beliefs. This mostly reassures that Odo is not the same Odo from the future in "Children of Time" -- though I think I wish that this were a little more gradual a transformation. (Would Odo really be so cool about Kira maybe dying like a week after they got together?)

SPOILERS for the season finale: It occurs to me that this episode does in some way set up Sisko blaming himself for Jadzia's death; O'Brien found a way to neutralize the Pah-Wraith threat while still putting Keiko's life first, and Worf chose Jadzia's life over millions in "Change of Heart." Sisko made the call in this episode to place the battle over his son, citing "faith." And as the guy who smashed the tablet, Sisko does end up being the guy responsible for the release of the Pah-Wraiths back into the world.

1.5 stars at most for me.
JC
Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
"It starts out reasonably enough, to the point I even felt the sensation of promise."

This describes just about every DS9 plot and arc. The DS9 writers have this bad habit of luring you in to making an emotional investment, then making the return just... evaporate. They just can't seem to cut it, ever.

It is at the point where I can't even fully watch the half decent episodes any more, they're destroyed by this underlying sense of forthcoming irrelevance. These episodes can't be trusted. Every good moment has an undertone of "How are the writers going to mess *this* one up?"
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 11:25am (UTC -6)
Jayrus got it right. Winn is and always was the Bajoran analog to Dukat in every way. How could anyone ever think differently after watching The Cirlce? The difference between them is their background but they have the same character. Every single time she ever appears to 'come around' is an instance of egotistical theatrics involving a puppet show of growth and revelation. I'm not surprised some people are taken in by her apparent 'changes' seeing as how much the audience was swayed to Dukat's side during S4. They are both manipulative enough - although Dukat is better at it - that you can be taken in by their delusions for a time. Knowing Dukat as we know him later on it's very easy when watching S4 to realize exactly what's going on in his little fantasy he plays out about himself.

The reason for Winn aborting the Reckoning at the end may not be just one thing. I think that once the prophet shunned her she wanted to lash out and teach the prophet a lesson about paying her the proper respect (!). I also agree with a previous poster that she most likely doubted the prophets would prevail and decided her judgement was better than theirs. People perhaps miss that it takes a truly deranged mind (or a Klingon) to literally think it knows better than a god what to do. I also think she did it for pragmatic reasons since she's overall a pragmatist rather than a person of faith. She believed the station was essential for the protection of Bajor and she wasn't about to let the Emissary or even the prophets tell her to give it up for some stupid battle.

If I had to guess I'd say the need for corporeal vessels was to test Sisko's faith. The pagh wraiths would want it to crumble, while the prophets no doubt saw it as a chance to cement it. In fact, I'd even go as far as to suggest that "the reckoning" had nothing to do with any golden age but rather was outright a reckoning of Sisko's resolve. The bits in the prophecy about "the rebirth" may just have been there to mess with Winn's mind and give her the mental fuel to do what she was meant to do and defy the prophets. It's easy to forget that the prophets don't merely predict the future but exist outside of time. I find it hard to believe they "didn't know" what the outcome of the reckoning would be, as if Winn was some total mystery to them. A problem with my theory is the prophet's "NO!!!" when the chronoton radiation begins, but actually we don't know it was the prophet speaking. If the prophet relinquished control of Kira just at that moment it could very well have been her screaming in protest at someone interfering with the prophets and halting an apparently winning battle for them.

Regarding the light show at the end I'd like to point out that this is a clear lift of the battle scene in B5 between Kosh and Ulkesh, even in terms of the similarity of the special effect used and the 'good energy being vs. bad energy being' aspect. This doesn't precisely excuse the scene for those that didn't like it, but I guess at times Behr went full turkey in borrowing from B5. It's not strictly required to think of the battle as 'good vs evil', though, since we certainly don't know enough about the prophets to call them good. If we're to look at the source material we'd find that the Vorlons are many things, but good is not one of them.

SPOILERS ***

This episode is important because it cements Sisko as being on the side of the prophets and Winn as being their opponent. She was going to go on pretending to be their humble servant, except that after outright shunning her (just as Sisko and the Bajorans shunned Dukat) she was never going to put up with that. She blatantly says in a later episode that prophets that don't pay her the proper respect don't deserve her loyalty, and the road leading to that statement was paved here. I think The Reckoning is a very good episode and I've always liked it.

I always wonder at people who don’t like the religious aspect of DS9 when in fact it is pure science fiction involving the “what if” of aliens that could exist outside of time. There is essentially nothing religious about it, but because it involves aliens far more advanced than Humans (see: Arthur C. Clarke’s comment about advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic) people seem to freak out. Sisko’s relationship to the prophets doesn’t need to be seen as anything more than a Starfleet officer participating in a treaty with a very peculiar alien race.
Luke
Fri, Jun 3, 2016, 2:45am (UTC -6)
If "Masks" was my guilty pleasure of TNG, then "The Reckoning" is easily my "Deep Space Nine" guilty pleasure. The light show "showdown" is rather silly and absurd and there is a massive, glaring flaw (more on that in a minute), but there's just something about it that makes me enjoy it every time I watch it.

As another "Sisko as Emissary" episode, it's nowhere near as effective as previous entries like "Destiny", "Accession", "Rapture" and "Sacrifice of Angels". However, I do absolutely love that it tells an obviously very biblically based story. Whereas "Sacrifice of Angels" worked hard to portray Sisko as a Bajoran version of Moses, "The Reckoning" goes gangbusters to paint him as a Bajoran Abraham (offering his own son as a sign of his faith and so forth). Winn is somewhat used effectively even if her motivation for driving away the Prophet and Pah-wraith is unclear. It's nice that the groundwork for her ultimate betrayal of the Prophets is already being laid - she says at one point that the Prophets have never spoken to her, which is one of the tools Dukat uses to influence her into accepting the Pah-wraiths. And I also love that Sisko's spiritual journey is now basically complete. If "Call to Arms" made it clear that Sisko identified himself as a Bajoran (in a temporal sense), he is now a firmly a full believer in the Bajoran religion.

The problem - and this is probably going to sound really strange coming from me - is the portrayal of the atheist characters. I savaged TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers?" and TNG: "Devil's Due" for their depictions of theists - basically as nothing but simple minded morons. Well, oddly enough, this time around it is the atheists that come across looking really, really stupid. If I'm going to be fair, I have to call this out. The atheists among the Senior Staff (mostly Dax but Bashir to a lessor extent) really need to start fucking paying attention! What the hell is all this talk about "good grief, guys, this is absurd; nothing is going to happen!" People, this isn't some random religion that exists solely on faith. The Prophets (and Pah-wraiths) are scientifically provable entities. They can be called Wormhole Aliens all day long, but that isn't going to change the fact that they do exist. Why are they treating any discussion of them as meaningless unscientific faith/dogma?! Dax's attitude is most unbelievable. When Sisko decides to let the battle take place on the station she simply can't believe it, instead wanting to force the Prophet and Pah-wraith off the station because, apparently, all this religious stuff is just silly. WTF! Did she just forget that the Prophets are the only thing standing between them and the Dominion's full strength from the Gamma Quadrant?! Oh, the Prophets want something from us? Well, fuck them, am I right! Let's just tell them to piss off! After it's not them and their abilities that are protecting our asses at this very moment - the only thing keeping the Dominion on their side of the Wormhole is the soul-chilling existential terror they must be feeling at the prospect of facing the magnificent Jadzia Dax in personal combat, am I right?! If you're going to make the atheists look this fucking stupid, then I'm going to call you out on it just like I did when you were doing it in the reverse. They even go so far as to have Worf, of all people, side with the atheist contingent. Given that he is himself a man of faith and firmly sided with the theists in "Rapture", this makes next to no sense. Then, just to throw a monkey wrench into the system, the writers have the most ardent atheist in the main cast - Odo - show true tolerance and respect for the faithful by sticking up for Kira's decision to help the Prophet - which, I should point out, required an act of faith of his part as he had no direct evidence that Kira was willing. What is going on here?!

So, "The Reckoning" is an enjoyable, but deeply flawed episode.

6/10
William B
Fri, Jun 3, 2016, 11:58am (UTC -6)
@Luke -- It drives me crazy that no one (besides Dukat in "Tears of the Prophets") seems to remember the Prophet intervention in "Sacrifice of Angels" or ever brings it up explicitly as a factor in their decisions. That is a pretty big failing here, and I think that the focus on the station's strategic importance just makes everyone look worse for not bringing up the *Prophets'* considerable strategic importance.

I would have preferred it if the "atheist" characters focused on Kira and Jake and the possibility/likelihood of their deaths, especially Jake -- Sisko is the next of kin, but that doesn't give him the sole say over whether or not they are allowed to work on rescuing Jake from having his body taken over by a malignant entity. While Kira can be presumed to consent because of her faith, with Jake it's a different story, even if after the fact he indicates that he was willing to sacrifice himself to destroy the Paghwraith. Even to the extent that the Federation (and Klingons and Romulans) owe the Prophets big for their intervention, it is reasonable to expect some opposition to civilians giving up their bodies and possibly their lives to a battle with unknown consent. Maybe if an argument came down to it, Worf as Strategic Operations Officer (and the next-highest ranking officer besides Sisko and Kira) would conclude that civilian casualties (i.e. Jake) in a war being fought by their...ally are justified, or maybe he would conclude that it is essential that civilians' rights to bodily autonomy be protected, or that they have to open a comprehensible dialogue with the Prophets beyond that which Sisko has before they can agree to whatever terms they demand, and decide that he must confront Sisko. Or the other Starfleet officers (without the personal connection Sisko has, or the faith that the Bajorans have) might ask whether they know enough about the Paghwraiths to know for sure that they are as evil and as in need of destruction as the Bajoran prophesy tells -- they have some info (from Keiko's experience) but not too much. I am straying from what the episode actually depicted, I know; there are a lot of what ifs I find unexamined.
methane
Fri, Jul 15, 2016, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
Every believer believes something a little different. If there are 1.2 billion Catholics on this planet, there are 1.2 billion different types of Catholicism being practiced at once. If everyone articulated all the nuances of their beliefs, there would be some that were very similar, and some that were vastly different.

Some commenters have argued that Winn was never a believer. I think, up until the climax of this episode, she was written as one. No, her beliefs didn't align well with Kira's, but that isn't unusual for 2 followers of the same religion on this planet. Winn believes her gods are stern parental figures who value the order that comes from hierarchy and obedience. (Not an unusual belief here on Earth!) Of course it's only natural that Winn would rise to the top of that hierarchy; only someone who properly appreciates the importance of order could properly run the faith.

That's self-serving, but a lot of faith is. Taking one's own philosophies & attributing them to a god is pretty universal for believers. The communist who claims god hates capitalism, the Individualist who says god loves capitalism, the homophobe who claims god thinks homosexual acts are wrong, the homosexual who claims god is just fine with them; these are all people who create god in their own image.

So, yes, Winn's faith was self-serving, but that doesn't mean it's not real. And her faith did evolve over time. After initially rejecting the idea that the prophets had chosen Sisko, who didn't understand Bajor, she eventually accepted that they did have a place for him in their order of the universe. That's an adjustment to her faith, but only to a degree. She still believes in order & hierarchy, even if her gods have mysteriously given this (still so ignorant!) alien a prominent place in that order.

In this episode something happens that can't happen to a believer on Earth: she comes face to face with her gods and finds out they don't share her faith at all! Not only do they have no use for her, the current leader of their order on Bajor, but they envision a future without any hierarchy whatsoever. This shatters her faith. I think it's not just her possible loss of status: Winn would probably be happier living at the bottom of an ordered society than as an equal in an anarchy. The world just wouldn't make sense.

Her actions afterwards make sense. She isn't sure what she believes now, but having either side win this battle doesn't seem like a good idea. So she stops it when she gets the chance.

----

Reviewing the episode as a whole, I have the problem others have mentioned, one that continues in stories with the prophets for the remainder of the series: the good vs. evil storyline isn't as interesting as what came before. However (as is often the case in the upcoming episodes), it was still done fairly well. The special effects do come off as silly, and William B went over some of the problems with Jake that should have been addressed, but I find the characters actions generally well-motivated, and I think I'd give this episode 2.5 stars.
Peter G.
Fri, Jul 15, 2016, 11:13pm (UTC -6)
Very well said, methane, about Winn's faith. I agree more or less completely with you comments about that.

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