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Sat, Dec 27, 2014, 2:03am (UTC -5)
Re: DS9 S1: Battle Lines

Battle Lines: C+

The first episode to follow up on the pilot’s religious elements, “Battle Lines” is a bit of a wash: for every good element present there’s at least one bad element, and while the show is bold, I think (especially for nineties sci-fi), for removing an important secondary character so early, they really ought to have done it in a better way.

I have mixed feelings on the ambiguity of the Sisko/Opaka/Prophets situation. It’s very unclear if there has been much communication between Sisko and the Kai since “Emissary”; more ambiguous still is whether either character realizes just what Sisko encountered in the wormhole. They share a couple of knowing glances, and Opaka’s facial expression after passing through the wormhole indicates that the experience was powerful – perhaps even transcendent – for her. In this sense, “Battle Lines” doesn’t really tell us anymore about the Prophets or the Emissary than we already knew – and Sisko is on his own now that Opaka is stranded on planet-of-the-week. But it’s nice to know that there’s still something going on this front.

The penal colony of eternal war itself? Fairly ho-hum, and the idea of two tribes/races/families warring endlessly for time immemorial (with both having forgotten the origin of the conflict) is one I know I’ve seen multiple times in the past. There are some interesting bits concerning the futility of a war that cannot end (or a war that people refuse to bring to an end), and the leaders of the warring factions are ably acted (Banks!), but there isn’t much here to excite me.

Better handled is the Kira/Opaka stuff. I wish Kira’s revelations in this episode had been built up to a bit better, and I saw the parallels between Kira and the two races coming before they were made, but the scene where Kira comes to grips with her warlike mindset was well done. It’s a shame that the mentor figure of Opaka abandons Kira and the other Bajorans during the difficult transitional period to help out a bunch of thugs we’ll probably never see again.

The Good:
- Actually a pretty good episode for Sisko. He’s not perfect – he can be impatient and shouty – but he’s not such a bad diplomat, and I like that he’s able to modify his belief in the Prime Directive in such a way that he’s willing to help both factions. Plus, he’s pretty awesome in a fight.

The Mixed:
- Nana Visitor can be shrill as irritating as Kira. Sometimes it works for the character, sometimes it doesn’t. This episode had examples of both, but her work with Opaka was quite good, I thought.

The Bad:
- Every time we’d go back to O’Brien and Dax on the Rio Grande, I’d sigh. To be fair, they seemed to acknowledge the absurdity of the technobabble by having Dax be clueless about certain terms.
- This show is really pretty bad with fight scenes.
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