Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Air date: 5/10/1993
Written by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Les Landau
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
In an return to the core of the series' outlook, Kira is ordered to see to the evacuation of an elderly Bajoran farmer named Mullibok (Brian Keith) from a Bajoran moon that is set to be used in a power extraction project in the coming months. The problem is Mullibok has no intentions of leaving; he's convinced that he is destined to die where he has lived his whole life.
"Progress" is a wonderful sleeper episode that gets to the heart of larger issues using small-scaled human drama. Like "Past Prologue," this episode excels by placing Kira in the middle of tough problems with shades of grey. The interesting issue here is how the provisional government assigns Kira to a job she really doesn't feel she can carry out without betraying part of herself. Kira can identify with Mullibok's plight: a loner facing impossible odds—similar to the odds of the Bajorans freeing themselves from the Cardassian oppression. Keith's Mullibok is an engaging screen presence; he and Nana Visitor work well together.
What really stands out here is a poignant scene between Sisko and Kira that simultaneously highlights the show's intriguing theme (that of Kira now being on "the other side" of an issue she sympathizes with) while also bringing the two characters closer together—with what may be a pivotal moment of understanding in their relationship.
The lightweight B-story involving Jake and Nog's attempts to capitalize on a business opportunity is agreeable but hardly relevant—and coming off the heels of the Jake/Nog storyline in "Storyteller," this feels a little too pervasive. B-story aside, this show is a winner, indicating the direction DS9 seems to be heading in.
Previous episode: The Storyteller
Next episode: If Wishes Were Horses
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77 comments on this post
Mon, Oct 29, 2007, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
The title episode of DS9's first season (so say I) was Progress, and there was such a lot of well connected themes, plots and arcs already underway here, whether the show's writers knew it or not, that this pattern would continue on through series end... even if, much to its success and its failure at times, DS9 was unlike its competitor and estranged cousin series Babylon 5, as it was never planned from beginning to end all novel-like as was Babylon 5.
DS9 was much funnier, more reliably well acted, and looked much prettier (at least for a time -- Babylon 5's fx got astonishingly good by its second half). There have already been millions arguments made on Babylon 5's behalf, but it was in fact, too glued to its own singular vision and one overworked visionary's writing to survive its five years without turning to some horrible, horrible, schmaltzy soap-opera-y stuff.
DS9 never stooped so low. And its uncertain beginning here, with some totally missable ill advised episodes, like "The Passenger" and "If Wishes Were Horses", made way, with the brilliance of an almost new sci-fi notion of a religion based on gods that are right there to be perceived in the Prophets, powerful creatures as real as they are really different, wonderfully alien aliens -- a rarity in 90s Trek unfortunately -- set the stage for a particularly smart and even deeper second season that will continue to discuss some deep issues to do with frontier living and a society that needs to adapt to the diversity of the universe around it or die on its own.
Fri, May 28, 2010, 10:17am (UTC -5)
While I agree the acting was good, the situation was interesting, etc. etc., I had one major gripe about it: The premise was utterly absurd.
Recap: The Bajorans want to tap the core of the fifth moon. This will produce some power. The only way to get power immediately is to poison the atmosphere, so residents must be evacuated.
This is very obviously meant to be an allegory for removing natives from their land so we can flood the area and build hydroelectric dams. So far, so good.
But wait ... The Bajorans are poisoning the (fully breathable!) atmosphere of their closest off-world colony. The project will only power 200,000 homes, about as much as a single coal power plant. There's a non-destructive alternative available, and it would take only one year to start achieving "meaningful" power output.
Compare this to a modern hydro dam. They've dramatically reduced the benefit and increased the destructiveness, and rejected a safe alternative due to a tiny delay. This takes things well beyond the point of absurdity. It's the sort of thing I might expect from Ferengi, not from Bajorans -- with full support from the Federation, no less!
I realise Trek has never been about total realism, but I just found this premise jaw-droppingly ridiculous, and I found it detracted (and distracted) heavily from the episode. What were the script writers thinking?
Mon, Oct 11, 2010, 8:21pm (UTC -5)
Your note about the premises of DS9 being ridiculous (and most notably the part about Federation support) is the great systemic flaw of this series. Very few seem to be aware of it or acknowledge it, but this show makes major distortions of Star Trek canon in order to make its point. Sometimes, the point is well taken, but it depends upon a reality which is incongruous with what we know from the other series.
Thu, Oct 14, 2010, 1:06pm (UTC -5)
DS9 used to be my favourite show period, but my philosophy about life has changed a lot since then, and I've watched this series 2 times.
After watching some old episodes, I realize that the underlying philosophy in this show is of self-sacrifice, duty of the state, blackmail when it becomes convenient, and so on. The shows are littered with principles that are just evil, and the characters willingly go along with it for "the greater good".
Progress is an example of this. A man is being forced from his house, and Kira recognizes that it's wrong. It IS wrong. There is no debating this.
The moral? She uses force to remove him against his will from his own land. Wow, just wonderful.
I would have respected Kira a lot more if when she was given to choice by the minister to step down so he could find someone else to remove him, she should have said, "Fine, I'll have no part with it, and you can have my resignation." That would have made the story much more interesting, and it would have been moral.
The problem is that this show, as a lot of star trek shows, is that it emphasizes that the greater good, or the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few with complete disregard to property rights, or the right to life.
It really makes me actually hate a show I once loved. I'm just looking at it from a different perspective now. It's unfortunate.
Fri, Oct 15, 2010, 10:23am (UTC -5)
I agree that There are some stupid ideas in the episodes, most notably that you would need to tap the core of a moon for such a minimal amount of power, but it seems laziness on the part of the writers. They needed a situation that would need to evacuate a small number of people for the good of the many, and this is all they could come up with.
It does show Kira on the other side of the fence, the enforcer rather than the insurgent. And try as she may, she can't go against her uniform. Similar to what has been happening in China with the Three Rivers project where hundreds of villages are being evacuated and submerged to create the hydroelectric dam.
The need of the many out-weight the needs of the few. This works for a couple of reasons. This is post occupation Bajor, everyone is expected to pull together for the greater good and they government doesnt have time to discuss it. Secondly, this isn't the Federation, it may be at some point, but right now, this is how they do things.
Fri, Oct 15, 2010, 11:53am (UTC -5)
The thing is, whether it serves the greater good is irrelevant. The real question is this - what gives them the right to violate the property rights and the right to life of a few in order to serve the good? I'm sorry, but mixing a little evil to get a "good" doesn't work.
If the government offered to buy/trade with them so they could consensually relocate, that would be a different matter, but they clearly tried to remove these 3 people by force. All reason ends at the sight of a gun.
Also what bothers me is that there was a slower method to achieve the same goals without relocating them and without violating rights. This was the moral choice, but they willingly said, "No, it's all or nothing!" Couldn't they have traded/asked the federation for a replacement? Was that not possible? I'm sure it would have been.
It's not just about progress every 2 or 3 episodes has a theme along this end, especially the Ferengi episodes. While some aspects of the Ferengi are not all that great, their desire for profit isn't evil at all, yet the show tries to link the profit motive with the unequal rights of females and the violation of rights of others (theft, scheming, disreptuble business practices).
The thing is, Quark in his later years was more than rational about how he ran his bar. He really was. The federation/Odo still tried to constantly blackmail him anyway, and do all sorts of evil things to him that actually morally wrong, but the show takes this "our way is morally superior" approach. They just assume it's true, even though it has been proven to not be true at all.
It doesn't stop there. There are just countless episodes where the Federation and the main characters take stances that not moral, and it's amazing how I didn't see it before.
Sat, Oct 16, 2010, 6:03am (UTC -5)
If you just look at Earth today, or even just Europe, there are several cultures with different attitudes towards power, money, politics, gender, war and a multitude of things you would find in a diverse people. The French have a very different attitude to the English or the Bulgarians. This is something that Trek regularly fails on, there might be one or two klingons (Duras and D'Ghor some to mind) who aren't completely honourably but most tow the line of honour and bravery.
Back to the Bajorans and Progress in particular, you could argue the Prime Directive comes into effect, Sisko wouldn't interfere in an internal Bajoran affair. Kira, she's serving the new government, she doesnt want to but she has to.
Tue, Nov 22, 2011, 6:55am (UTC -5)
Realistically speaking, tapping the core of the moon would probably power an entire continent. Considering how the Bajorans are still recovering from the Occupation, they probably desperately need that power. Despite the Federation assistant, there may still be a lot of homeless and starving people on Bajor. They still have to meet the immediate needs of all those who continue to suffer from the Occupation. Utilizing the non-destructive might mean people starving to death or having to live through a winter without adequate heating.
Thu, Aug 9, 2012, 5:43pm (UTC -5)
You have a whole solar system full of people, plus the resources of the Federation and other nearby systems, yet the tiny handful of people running this station are the ones tasked with expelling an old farmer from a moon. Kira spends days doing that one thing.
Kira spends many episodes yelling at her ministers and telling them what to do as if she had been elected their president or something. This tiny group of people are also exploring systems on the other side of the wormwhole, solving every medical or scientific crisis that arises in their part of the quadrant on many on the other side of the wormhole, etc, etc.
In a later episode, it shows Dax and Kira doing the menial task of manually directing traffic to and from the station. So it seems questionable when they keep putting their entire command staff on missions to chase miscreants down or explore.
TL;DR Tiny number of main characters doing everything, everywhere in the galaxy.
Sun, Sep 2, 2012, 4:39am (UTC -5)
If the process they are using to get energy is toxic to humanoids then i would think it would also be toxic to the native wildlife. They didn't bother beaming out all that wildlife which will now die just so they can get energy.
I gotta agree with what Wisq posted. What they are doing doesn't make much sense. The moon also looks huge and not small like an asteroid when the runabout was orbiting it. I can't guess size or what parts of the planet are habitable though.
Can't they just beam all the wildlife off the moon and into cages or even cargo bay size living areas till they can relocate them.
I know its up to the Bajorans since it is their moon but why wouldn't starfleet who knew about it come to the rescue of the wildlife for all the bravado you hear about how humans have evolved and advanced over the centuries.
The reality is probably that the staff making the episode just didn't bother filtering out all that additional noise or thought people just wouldn't care or even notice. Honestly i didn't notice all that sound till i watched the episode a second time.
Overall i enjoyed the episode but as i have already written parts of it didn't make any sense.
Wed, Sep 12, 2012, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
So why doesn't the Federation just send Bajor a bunch of power plants? They wouldn't even have to be permanent, since the story line said an alternative source would be ready within a year. Just park some spaceships in orbit and beam the power down if necessary. It's just like the episode with the land reclamators, when the Federation sends six and the Bajorans practically have a civil war over them. Why not send 60, or 6000, or a reclamator-replicator that can make six million? The supposedly wanting-for-nothing Federation sure gets parsimonious with Bajor, considering how much they're supposed to care about the place.
(And why exactly is the Federation so anxious to invite into its ranks a downtrodden society that can't even hope to feed its own people without drastic techno-solutions and massive outside aid? Before the wormhole was discovered, that really makes no sense at all.)
It would have been an easier call if they'd set up the story so Bajor really had no choice -- maybe an imminent natural disaster on the moon that no one could stop, and the old man refusing to leave. Making it a decision by the government -- and one made more for expediency than for necessity -- makes Kira's choice harder and more interesting. She could have stayed with the old man and dared them to kill them both, or taken up arms and attacked the people getting ready to poison the moon. She didn't go down those paths because she really is changing from someone who valued individual liberty more than anything -- enough to kill and die for it without compromise -- into someone who sees the value of diplomacy and order. She recognizes that change and doesn't like it, which makes this story so much more interesting than if it'd just been a question of whether to save a man against his will.
Sat, Nov 10, 2012, 12:30am (UTC -5)
First review we've encountered Elliott's argument in such a crystallised form so worth tackling it. Apparently DS9 subverts the Trek canon against the Other Series (Possibly against TNG) but it remains far better acted, and to be blunt much more interesting than Voyager ever managed in its first season that I think this critique is a little harsh.
In Progress, The population of a small moon is to be evacuated to provide power for Homes on Bajor and Kira finds herself in a dilemma regarding one holdout household.
In response to Carl Corishev, I can only offer two arguments -1/ The Federation, given Bajor's thinly veiled ambiguity as to whether Federation membership IS desirable (Witness Episode 19 and the Trilogy at the start of Season 2h is reluctant to give them the requisite technology?
2/ They fear a renewed Cardassians buildup as a result of them becoming too much of a 'donor' to the Bajorans - the critique observing the ridiculously small scale of the project's impact is a fair one.
That said, taking the episode with these caveats in mind, I found it very interesting. Nana Visitor gives her best performance yet (better than 'Battle Lines') and her scenes with Brooks are very believable. The performance of Brian Keith as Mullibok is also very good and the interaction between the Primary lead and the main guest is a highlight.
I did not find the B plot as irritating as Jammer and it highlighted the character development of Aron Eisenberg as well. Definitely an episode that needs to be watched carefully, but for me a highlight of the season, if not the best episode thus far in the series. 3.5 Stars from me.
Sun, Apr 21, 2013, 8:16am (UTC -5)
Lots of good points made by previous commenters--I think it partly all comes down to what you believe about property. Like in Insurrection--is it right to take away what others have built and claimed for a greater good? I don't think there is a bright line answer for this--it is all circumstantial.
Sun, Jun 30, 2013, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
Many countries (not only communist ones or dictatorships either, but good old Western capitalist democracies) have laws which allow governments to confiscate properties for development projects, whether these projects are good ideas or not, and then their officials are forced to defend these projects.
These are positions and conflicts people have to face, whether they are well-thought out situations or not.
As for the B-story, well, it is reminiscent of high school economics projects... amusing enough.
Mon, Oct 14, 2013, 6:30pm (UTC -5)
3 1/2 Stars
Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 8:23am (UTC -5)
The plot would have worked if it had been on the surface of Bajor. But a moon with a molten core, large enough to support an atmosphere and support life just isn't plausible. Why in the world would they throw away a colony that can support life? Are colonies so cheap that they can just trash them, particularly when it could have been avoided by merely waiting a year? The Hoover Dam provides enough electricity to power 1,700,000 homes, making this power plant seem quite paltry.
Kira is in a position where she simply has no choice. If she doesn't evict him, someone else will. This episode forces her to accept that part of doing her job is doing things that she disagrees with. This could have been a much better episode if it had been better thought out. Put it in a valley on Bajor, make it a hydroelectric plant, and the story becomes plausible.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jan 20, 2014, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
Bajor has just suffered an occupation where all their rights have been ignored and trodden on by the Cardassians for decades. I find it hard to believe that Bajor wouldn’t place a great emphasis on all sorts of rights of the individual after such an experience. Evacuating the population of a colony against their will in order to explore some power source there is just the kind of treatment that population might have expected from the Cardassians. Surely the Bajoran government wouldn’t want to be compared to the Cardassian occupation forces...
As I said, I don’t remember the episode, and maybe this issue is adressed in it. It just seems strange.
@cade: I’m glad you came around! ;) I like DS9, but see it mostly as TNG taking a trip down all the wrong ethical paths. It’s entertaining. It has great production values. It has many very well written stories. Unfortunately, it’s a Federation so corrupted and perverted that it is hardly worthy of the name compared to TNG. And unfortunately, that’s not how DS9 sees itself.
As others have pointed out, DS9 is 24th century humans behaving like we do today. TNG is 24th century humans behaving like maybe, just maybe, we could all become something better one day...
Thu, Feb 27, 2014, 6:53am (UTC -5)
Damn I think I want to see my version now.
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 8:38am (UTC -5)
I too had thoughts about the plot from the 1st time I saw it. Jesus.... does anyone in this "advanced" century use frakin solar power? We have to evacuate a livable moon with a self-sustaining eco-system for what? Do dig up some dirt that pollutes the moon and probably Bajor?
I also side with many of the commenters here that this episode is morally just reprehensible. Screw individual rights. Screw the family. And Kira has completely lost her way in this episode. Someone that fought her whole life for Bajoran freedom against oppression ends up forcibly removing someone from their home and property.
"What has happened to my trek?" I said the first time I saw this episode.
I don't buy the lazy story that leads to his mandatory removal, and I don't agree with not only Kira's actions, but how Sisko seems to passively agree with this use of force against individual people. He even suggests he'll replace her if she doesn't "do her job". What IS her job here?
Individual performances aside (loved Brain Keith in this one) this rates about -10 stars from me. The writers completely disregarded what trek is all about here.
At least the "B" story wasn't immoral.
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 8:49am (UTC -5)
Ah yes, True Trek Revolutionary Guard greeting card. :)
That's the kind of discourse this fandom was engaged in back in 1993. It's been 20 years. Can we move past it?
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 9:24am (UTC -5)
Move past what? Being moral? Doing the right thing instead of the convienant thing?
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Move past the whole "this here is Trek, that there ain't Trek" thing. Like it or not, DS9 is a part of Trek legacy, a worthwhile part if you ask me. Let's discuss it in terms of what this show has to offer, where its strength and weaknesses lie without resorting to blanket indictments of unTrekness (unTrekitty?) as if there's a Holy Book of Trekdom that all the series have to follow.
Free love, man, free love! :) Cheers!
Mon, Jun 23, 2014, 5:55pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 1:41am (UTC -5)
Tue, Jun 24, 2014, 6:43am (UTC -5)
Move past the whole "this here is Trek, that there ain't Trek" thing. Like it or not, DS9 is a part of Trek legacy, a worthwhile part if you ask me. Let's discuss it in terms of what this show has to offer, where its strength and weaknesses lie without resorting to blanket indictments of unTrekness (unTrekitty?) as if there's a Holy Book of Trekdom that all the series have to follow.
My current blanket only covered this episode.
I LOVE DS9!! I just finished S1, moving on to S2. (and I've watched it all the way though 4 other times!)
But I reserve the right to criticize where I see fit. ... and this episode definately deserved it.
Trek is folks doing the right thing for the right reasons. Simple. This episode had folks doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons.
Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 4:01am (UTC -5)
Kira slowly realizes that her authority not only enables, but requires her to look at the big picture. The occupation is over, Bajor must have power immediately to sustain itself, and siding with every underdog she finds is no longer the way to save her world. Between leaving a man she cared about to die and violating his rights to save him, was there really a "right choice"? I may not have done the same thing as Kira, but that's personal. I don't hold it against this episode or the series in general.
The B-story with Nog and Jake's trading scheme is good, especially Quark's reaction when he finds out. Basically they took something off Quark's hands, traded it for something relatively more valuable, then sold it to him for a profit. Nog is not only a good cadet but a good Ferengi as well.
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
I know this isn't fair, but when Nog says “I'm getting a tingling in my lobes” all I can think of are Lwaxana and Vash giving U-maks and I think the translation here is, “Jake, I'm getting a boner.” But, considering Ferengi porn is probably Sheldon Adelson jumping Scrooge McDuck style into a pool of Latinum, I guess that makes sense.
Anyway, the Federation is supplying aid to Bajor so it can start tapping some energy reserves on one of its moons. Good.
Next we get, the first step in changing Jadzia's character—for better and definitely for worse (see “Let He Who Is Without Sin”). She remarks that she finds Morn's wiry hair appealing, revealing her penchant for freaky-looking men.
So in our fourth scene of the teaser, we finally see Kira beamed onto this moon only to be greeted by the American Gothics.
Act 1 : ***.5, 17%
We are introduced to the wonderfully gruff Mullibok who calls off his mute peasant guards. He's got that patronising obstinacy that, in the right actor's hands, is disturbingly charming.
Meanwhile, we get another confusing entry into the galactic economy; Jake and Nog attempt to sell Quark's Yammak sauce to a passing trader for Latinum (which apparently has some sort of universal value?), but the trader wants to, um, trade. So we get another recurring motif for the series, the self-sealing stem-bolts. This is all fluff, but so far, I'm not terribly irritated by it.
Mullibok continues to be irascible and appealing, ordering Kira around, treating her simultaneously like a child and a piece of meat. The episode's core issue is revealed in simple dialogue :
“I told you, this is my home. If I leave here I'll die, so I'd rather die here.” The set-up is kind of clever: the other characters (Mullibok's “friends”) are all mute, implicitly because of some undisclosed Cardassian torture. So, they can be played by extras who don't have to talk. In addition to shoring up the budget, these mute characters because more of a part of the setting than real characters, offering a constant visual reminder of the pain that's lurking just beneath the surface in both Mullibok and Kira (see “Battle Lines”).
Act 2 : ***.5 , 17%
Again, I'm a bit uncomfortable seeing Quark grab Nog by the ear, causing him pain, as everything we've been led to believe would indicate that Quark just grabbed his nephew's dick to punish him. Ick. Nog manages to get ahold of the Yammik sauce.
Back to the interesting plot, Mullibok tells some tall tales about how he “conquered” this moon where he now lives. What works well here is the full-fledged archetype Mullibok portrays, the eccentric sage. For no good reason, we can't help but respect this old guy as he prattles on and on, dominating the dinner conversation with his stories. When he says that he belongs in this place, something deeper than the immediate reality of this situation rings true. His narrative succeeds exactly where “The Storyteller” failed to mythologise his own history. The veracity of his tales is unquestionably absent in point of fact, but their meaning is compelling and quite visceral.
As I said in “Battle Lines,” the Bajorans' cling to their faith makes sense in the context of their experience with the Cardassians. Mullibok's quasi-religious connection to his home echoes Kira's own internal contradictions. Mullibok reinforces this by cutting straight through to Kira's past as a terrorist when her life depended upon *not* yielding to the logical, prudent course, but acting through hope and desperation until political pressure from the Federation forced the Cardassians to leave.
Act 3 : **.5, 17%
Jake and Nog clumsily try to get O'Brien to explain what the purpose of self-sealing stem-bolts are, to no avail. So, they decide to track down the original buyer.
Meanwhile, Kira returns to DS9 to confront Sisko and Terran about the situation on the moon.
TERRAN : There were 47 [duh] other people living on that moon. They all left willingly.
KIRA : How do we know? All we know is they obeyed the order to leave.
What? How is choosing to obey an order not leaving willingly? I mean, if it's anything other than *volunteering* to leave their homes, they're being forced off? That's a pretty biased interpretation there, Kira.
Kira suggests using an alternative method of extracting the energy which would allow Mullibok and his Gothics to remain on the moon, but also mean delaying the process of actually realising energy extraction by over a year. Here's where the plot becomes rather tenuous—are we expected to believe that an entire moon with lush vegetation and a breathable atmosphere is entirely expendable
when it could *also* be used as a power source if the Bajorans are willing to be patient? Talk about short-sighted.
Kira returns with security officers to collect Mullibok and his Gothics, while she asks him not to make them remove them by force. She even tries to pull a little of Mullibok's own brand of ornery banter, but he's not yielding. Sadly, the Gothics end up attacking the security officers and Mullibok ends up getting stunned by a phaser. Kira orders the security officer to call for Dr Bashir—for the stunned Mullibok. Not that I'm sure he doesn't need help, but what about your man who was just STABBED IN THE GUT, Major? Maybe he'd like to see a doctor, too?
Act 4 : **.5, 17%
I was convinced that the Bajoran Jake and Nog were talking to over subspace was Odo messing with them (was that Auberjonios' voice?).
Bashir treats Mullibok's injuries, and Kira has apparently come to a decision. She tells Bashir to leave and settles in to help tile Mullibok's kiln (the project has been a motif for the episode). Bashir reports to Sisko, and we get yet another insight into Sisko's dubious brand of morality. He orders Bashir to lie in order to give Sisko some wiggle room in letting Kira keep her job. Again, instead of being a man and owning up to his decisions—telling Terran, for example, that he himself ordered Kira to stay—Sisko shirks off the responsibility to one of his subordinates. Sisko, you're a coward, and you're an asshole. I hate you.
Kira tells one of her own tall tales—a story about an old, nasty, selfish tree with “a lot of character.” It's a good little scene. Sisko arrives to chat with Kira. He pleads with her to accept the fact that she's “on the other side,” echoing Sisko's own change from being the underdog to becoming the face of the Federation (well, ostensibly anyway) in “Emissary.”
Act 5 : ***, 17%
Mullibok has a disturbing dream, where he apparently remembers some horrible episode with the Cardassians. This provides us the final delicate little softened edge to his character.
So it turns out that Jake and Nog's little venture may actually yield some profit as the piece of land they acquired has suddenly become valuable to the Bajoran government. I wonder what Jake ended up doing with his 2.5 bars of Latinum...would have been useful in buying, say, a baseball card in a few years.
It turns out Sisko managed to give Kira exactly enough time to let Mullibok finish tiling his kiln, but that little contrivance is worthwhile as it gives us the chance to see a powerful, mostly silent scene where Kira blows it up and uses the fire to burn Mullibok's home to the ground (it's like someone poured gasoline in exactly those spots where she lit the flame isn't it?). Mullibok asks Kira to kill him, but she promises to keep him from dying. We get the feeling this is an empty promise, however.
Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%
It's a good character piece for Kira and the scenes with her and Mullibok are standout, beautifully written, acted and directed. If they had expunged the B Plot and not annoyed the hell out of me with Sisko's assbagishness, I would probably award 3.5 or even 4 stars to the affair. When the A plot is at its strongest, the B plot feels like a pointless diversion from what we really want to see, and it doesn't really add anything to the Nog/Jake dynamic.
Final Score : ***
Sat, Dec 6, 2014, 10:50pm (UTC -5)
I didn't think the Bajorans were that unreasonable (while I don't like it, eminent domain with compensation is generally uncontroversial and certainly practiced) and I liked that the dilemma was made grayer with the mention of a slower method and that there was a lot of suspense about what Kira would finally do until the end, that she had to and chose to make a difficult choice.
Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 6:45pm (UTC -5)
He only gets a kick out of being the center of attention, and having a hot woman talk to him.
Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 12:30am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 8, 2015, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
I also quite liked the B-plot. It's focus on youth, innocence, and optimism nicely complement the darker Mullibok-Kira plot.
Overall, a solid four stars.
Wed, Jul 15, 2015, 3:19pm (UTC -5)
Now, on the thorny subject of the Bajoran moon project at all: here's the thing. If the Bajorans could only wait a few years, they could maybe tap that moon without having to displace Mullibok, and could maybe also tap the moon in a sustainable way. There is something short-sighted about their decision, for sure. And if the Federation are *helping*, why do they stop where they stop, and not help even more so that their post-scarcity plenty can expand to Bajor? The weird secret to this, I think, is that the qualities that make Mullibok particularly Bajoran are the ones that mean that the Bajoran government and people will sweep him out of the way. Bajor gets some help, but by tapping its own moon, it gets to claim a certain amount of independence, to prove to itself that it is not merely running from one oppressive empire to one friendlier one. Bajor needs to prove its independence, and the arguable short-sightedness in tapping that moon is of a piece with Mullibok's actions: *we need to fend for ourselves, and we have already decided how to do that*.
That Kira comes to realize that she is the big bad authority figure coming to sweep individualist Mullibok away is an effective reversal, well-played by the episode, and which itself comes down to the recognition that the independence of Bajor as system/"nation" apparently requires the reduction of the independence of some of its citizens. Kira and Mullibok bond in part because their vision of the perfect life is in some ways compatible; Kira's rallying cry was always FREEDOM, freedom from the oppressors, and her distrust of the Federation started as an understandable fear-reaction to any outsiders, but I think is developing into something more akin to a desire to be able to be fully self-reliant in order for Bajor to (re-)discover what it is in times of peace. Kira herself has to discover who she is when it's not wartime, and while she may come to internalize some Federation values, she also wants something that she knows is authentically hers, and not some attempt to be someone else. AND YET, the desire to have something of one's own can run hard in the face of harsh realities. The (largely) benevolent collectivism of the Federation runs counter to Mullibok's violent defense of the plot of land he's made part of the story of who he is, and that collectivism is one of the things that may help Bajor pull together now that the Cardassians are gone.
I'm making this all sound like a political treatise, when it's actually a very personal, heartfelt story; Kira cares about this guy, doesn't want to be the bad guy, but also recognizes that his need for his own plot of land is much, much less than the needs of Bajorans as a whole for the power needed to *survive*. She insists that Mullibok can survive off-world, and Kira herself is the consummate survivor, who believes that what is on the inside can be sustaining anywhere, but Mullibok may not have the strength that Kira has, and certainly doesn't have her youth and the adaptability that comes with it. It's tragedy, moving and effective.
Definitely the biggest problem I have with the episode is the idea that it is entirely DS9's problem to deal with Bajoran citizens settling in the Bajoran system, and in spite of what I say above it is a bit hard to understand how building a figurative railroad through this guy's house is absolutely necessary given the Federation's post-scarcity means at this stage of the game. And the subplot is okay but not exceptional. Still, this is one of my favourites so far. 3.5 stars.
Fri, Oct 23, 2015, 5:06am (UTC -5)
The B-story with Jake and Nog is the fluffiest of puff pieces, but decently enough played. 3 stars.
Thu, Nov 5, 2015, 6:24pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Nov 12, 2015, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Add to all this, the moons were under control of the Bajorans for what seems to be thousands of years, it really feels like Mullibock took advantage of the Occupation to live his nice private life on Bajoran property while everyone else had to put up with the brunt of the Occupation and back-breaking work to rebuild the core planet.
This episode brings up some great government-individual themes, but in the end you're left with the feeling that Kira putting in way more effort than she needs to deal with something that shouldn't be her problem as a military officer.
Wed, Nov 25, 2015, 7:10am (UTC -5)
What would have been better (and I thought the writers may have had this in mind when I first watched it) is if the kiln they were building was actually a crematorium for Mullibok. At the end he could have asked Kira to end his life to remain at his home, and she could have refused. Or he could have taken his own life with Kira regretting that she couldn't help him. Perhaps this would have been all too gory for the producers, but it would have added the extra shades of grey I think the episode needed.
Sun, Feb 7, 2016, 8:26am (UTC -5)
While I love that "Progress" throws the audience into a decidedly morally-grey area, the main problem with it is Mullibok himself. Obviously they were trying to make him a likable curmudgeon, but in that they failed miserably. In order for a character to be a likable curmudgeon he has to be capable of being a downright ass most of the time but still have redeeming qualities. Perfect examples are Archie Bunker from "All in the Family" and Al Bundy from "Married with Children". Both of those characters were sexist, bigoted, superficial scumbags most of the time but the audience could forgive them for that because 1.) they were both funny and 2.) deep down, they both cared deeply for their families, even if they didn't like to show it. Mullibok has absolutely no such redeeming characteristics - he's just an asshole. I suppose you could say that he's loyal to his two friends, but that honestly comes across as him only liking them because they think exactly as he does, nothing more.
As a libertarian I really want to support the guy. He is, after all, facing a situation where the big, powerful government is forcing him off his land and out of his home against his will all in the name of some greater good. But from a story-telling perspective, he's just so damn unlikable that I can't get behind him. This is the same problem I have with the Ba'ku in "Star Trek: Insurrection". Again, I want to side with them, as that time it's the big, powerful Federation government forcing them off their land against their will. But again, they're unlikable. They, like Mullibok, stubbornly stand there and claim that they're personal desires trump the benefits to countless others. This is a give-and-take world and everyone has to do both. But, in both stories, one side refuses to give anything and that makes Mullibok and the Ba'ku unrelatable and unsympathetic.
Constant this with the B-plot, where Jake and Nog exchange in mutually beneficial exchange, and the differences are stark. Because everyone involved is willing to barter, exchange and engage in commerce with each other, everyone walks away a winner. The freighter captain, the Bajoran who needed the stem-bolts, the Bajoran government, Jake, Nog and even Quark all end up with something they want. It's beautiful. It's as close to an open celebration of capitalism, actual free-market capitalism, that Trek has ever given us up to this point. And most people sadly dismiss it as "the lightweight B-story." *sigh* If only we could have spent more time with this plot-line, the episode would only have benefited from it. (Though it is odd that it's Jake, not Nog, who seems to better understand the intricacies of the market. And, um, Nog sees no benefit to owning land? Really?!)
But, of course, the standout scene does come from the A-plot - the exchange behind Sisko and Kira. That's probably because it doesn't involve Mullibok. That one scene, where Sisko admits that his perception of Kira has changed and that he has not only come to respect her but see her as a friend, and where Kira emotionally opens up to him, is better than any scene Picard and Riker shared.... ever.
Mon, May 30, 2016, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
I subscribe to the view that conflict (not necessarily involving violence, but at least opposing points of view) provides the power in good drama.
Here we have the conflict of interests between the settlers and the vague millions that will benefit from the power generated by the project. Yes, the story is somewhat flawed - trashing a habitable moon to produce power does seem insane. That said I seem to recall that most of Bajor's moons are habitable to some degree and there is no shortage of habitable planets in Trek.
Earlier comments have been along the lines of "why can't the Federation provide plant and equipment to produce sufficient power?" Well, there'd be no story if it were that simple. Realistically the replicator is a simplistic idea and scarcity will probably always exist in some form or other. If you want post-scarcity science fiction that is all well and good but it doesn't speak very well to common contemporary issues and Trek has never really been post-scarcity.
As to the idea that post-Occupation Bajor should abhor violence and respect civil liberties, if you pay attention to the way real world societies have coped with occupation, colonialism and oppression many broke down completely when the occupying forces withdrew. Sometimes occupying forces restrain other forces from coming into play. That's not a justification for occupation or colonialism but it does happen. If anything it is unrealistic that Bajor becomes a prosperous and peaceful world so quickly without suffering many setbacks in the form of coups, factional violence, conflicts of ideas, etc. Thankfully the series does provide some realistic expressions of these (e.g. The Circle) though within the arc-based format the series took such conflicts don't last particularly long.
In my opinion "Progress" is a good episode that succeeds in telling the story they wanted to tell and doesn't come across too preachy. There are multiple ways of interpreting the moral dimension and I actually like that both sides have legitimate arguments. I like my drama to have shades of grey.
Mon, May 30, 2016, 1:02pm (UTC -5)
@Luke, I think DS9 is generally kindly predisposed to trade and the free market. In "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" Nog's barter and trade goes to a new level!
Mon, Dec 12, 2016, 12:06am (UTC -5)
This debate has gone on in Star Trek for awhile though. See TNG where Picard uproots the space Indians even though they're federation citizens. Wesley argues for their rights and gets show down.
The only thing I ask from my sci-fi is for it to make me think and in this case this episode was a success.
Tue, Jan 10, 2017, 2:06pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 9:33pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 13, 2017, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
"Progress" has what appear to be plot holes, as it is very hard to imagine the Federation virtually abducting people to relocate them. But this was tackled in the later episodes of TNG and it would give rise to the Maquis storyline, which also supposedly fueled Voyager (well, B'Elanna went psycho when she found out the Maquis were dead, and we got one of the only brilliant holodeck episodes in all of Trek, when Seska reprogrammed Tuvok's security program). So they actually paid this off.
My only real problem with this episode was the stubborn old man. "I can see why you like him," Sisko tells Kira. Well perhaps he can enlighten me, because the old man was cantankerous in a rude and unpleasant manner. I recently lost my nan, and seeing this character twitching and talking in his sleep brought back painful memories. But the expected sense of bonding with that horrible man never happened. When he asked Kira to shoot him, she declines in horror, but most people would probably do it.
Kudos to the writers and actors for making the station a bustling place full of interesting characters who maintain their identities even during episodes which aren't about them. We never really saw this in TNG, VOY or ENT. (Eg Chakotay was only a Native American in Chakotay episodes.) In fact I struggle to think of characters from other Trek shows who were as deeply thought-out as the DS9 crew.
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 2:04pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 3:58pm (UTC -5)
Sorry, what? It's not like Mullibok was in terminal stages of cancer and needed relief. What soldier in their right mind would kill this guy when relocation was possible? Besides which, if Kira did kill him there would have been no point in her ever going there. The power extractors would've killed him without Kira's intervention.
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 5:12pm (UTC -5)
I see, that would've clearer if the NoPoet had said something like "most people would've jumped at the chance to kill this annoying guy unlike Kira" or something similar. I wasn't sure whether NoPoet hated the guy or was somewhat sympathetic because of his experience with his relative. (There's a tone shift in the middle of his paragraph).
Mon, Sep 11, 2017, 5:18pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 6:16am (UTC -5)
"Progress" follows the usual pattern of a decent A-plot and meant-to-be-humorous-but-irrelevant B plot. The latter being Nog/Jake trying to find profit. This was largely a distraction in the episode -- didn't do anything for me. The only question is do they get burned or not.
The relocation (with force) idea is theme played out time and again so it's worth exploring in "Progress". But with Kira caught between the 2 sides, it's not just forced removal. In this instance Sisko's stiff delivery of reminding Kira of her duties but also being lenient worked for me.
2.5 stars for "Progress" -- decently poignant moment at the end with Kira burning the guy's house down as he just stands there. Some of the episode dragged a bit with the back-and-forth of wanting to move Mullibok and the old man's tales of survival/resistance/rebuilding. But I think this is a true DS9 episode about the characters (Kira in this case) dealing with new Federation responsibilities but carrying a lot of baggage from the Bajor/Cardassian issue. Decent but nothing exceptional.
Mon, Dec 18, 2017, 1:18am (UTC -5)
Kira's story highlights how once you've lived in a place and invested yourself fully in that place then to move will be the death of you.
Nog and Jake's story highlights how trading one thing for another doesn't easily result in getting what you want (Nog wanted latinum, he got land or as he called it "dirt".
Wed, May 2, 2018, 5:47pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 24, 2018, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Aug 26, 2018, 5:34pm (UTC -5)
It’s okay. Kinda slow. This story we would see play out in a couple ways with Kira with a father figure and torn between loyalties this one was fair and Brian Keith was well cast but it felt at the end a little too much TNG Ensigns of Command
I actually found myself enjoying the B plot with Nog and Jake more. It was slight but fun
Sun, Sep 16, 2018, 5:11am (UTC -5)
3.5/4, subtracted a half star for the scale error and that one sisko comment
Thu, Nov 15, 2018, 5:56pm (UTC -5)
This story could have been saved by some twists. Perhaps the core-tapping project was a boon-doggle that would end up failing and exposing greedy interests that pushed it.
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 18, 2018, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Nov 24, 2018, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Yowza. Kira beams down, and the Villagers literally have pitchforks.
Brian Keith! What a surprise. He's great, really makes the ep.
Nice set. I like Mullibek's house.
Nicely done, all around.
B plot with Nog and Jake is ok. In it's way, it's also about what you must give up to get to your goal, having to exchange on thing for another, having to decide what you care most about. Choices.
Those youngsters do it so easily, exchanging A for B. Not so easily done, for Kira. Even harder, for Mullibek.
I thought Brooks did ok, I just have to accept him as he is. He seems more suited to the stage - with those very strong features and regal manner, that amazing voice and elocution, even his quietest or most light-hearted moments seem overdone. He'd be great as some God like alien, a Klingon ruler, a Q, etc. It's an awkward pairing, Brooks and Sisko. Maybe time will smooth it out a bit.
Sun, Dec 9, 2018, 3:27am (UTC -5)
Kira and Mullibek are both trapped in the mindset they developed during the occupation, but Kira is able to get past it. It's pretty much the core question for her, especially in the early seasons. How does someone who's known only war come to terms with peace? It means giving up your old ways. Some people can't quite do it.
I really liked the B story. No, not original, but fun.
Three stars, after deductions for the implausibility of the premise. Who would destroy a habitable moon just for the sake of not even very much power? Hasn't anyone watched The Undiscovered Country?
Wed, Feb 27, 2019, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
If you want to go hot-button with today's issues, imagine something more like the debate over gender roles. You can still be charmed by people who believe that the old male-female gender role split is ultimately good, but the times change. You don't want those people raising their children to believe such things, and the public school system will not be supporting those views, thus leading to conflict between a view held by a minority and a view held by a majority. Hell, in the case of gender roles, both sides would have a case for being in a position of persecution, and which you sympathize with would probably say much about the culture you were brought up in. Who the actual individualist is in such a case is not clear; what is clear is that inertia favors one side and authority, more and more, is backing it. This is why Sisko's words to Kira matter here: siding with the underdog makes it hard to win but is practically a cheat code for an easy conscience. Being compassionate and an authority figure at the same time is a nasty business; you always have to be the one to resolve the zero sum games, which means you're always screwing someone. It's a good rebuttal to the usual Trekkian optimism, which assumes a just society would pull the needs of the individual and the needs of the group into harmony through reason. It just doesn't always work that way; it may seem like that's because some people are irrational, but how much of your own desires, identity, and agency SHOULD you have to sacrifice to the altar of rationality, anyway?
This episode certainly isn't about individual land ownership, capitalism, or anything of the sort (although the inclusion of the B plot and leveraging of land that was eventually sold back to the Bajoran government gave me pause). I've never even seen firm confirmation that the modern concept of individual property rights exists in Bajoran society. It is clear enough that the old man would not have a problem getting a new home on Bajor, so there may be socialized distribution of housing or other goods, and the economics are clearly not the point. We do know that dignity and respect for people exist on Bajor, which is why they needed permission from the 4th owners (Jake and Nog) to build a new reclamation facility, but respecting people's expectation to be able to stay in a domicile is not specifically a matter of property rights so much as a broader moral matter. There are too many other ways to interpret it.
Thu, Mar 14, 2019, 3:48am (UTC -5)
Also, by having Mullibok forced out of his home at the end, the episode isn't sending us any "message". It's simply telling a story. Seriously, I think you people look way too deep into some of these episodes. From the very beginning, we know that there's no way the episode can end any differently than it does. Therefore, the interest lies in how it plays out, and I found it entertaining. There's nothing wrong with a slow pace, either.
Overall, I give it a 3.5 out of 4.
Tue, Apr 9, 2019, 6:01am (UTC -5)
I would agree that Mullibok had a slightly manipulative edge, having something of an impossible nature that played on Kira's guilt, but as other's have said you can understand why he is doing it.
Ultimately I know of similar stories that have played out in reality with the building of bypasses and supermarkets where houses once stood, and their elderly occupants refusing to move (in fact it makes me recall the movie Batteries Not Included a little) and this is a great representation. That Kira is forced to do something so counter to who she is is very in keeping with the "difficult decisions of command" theme that many starfleet captains have had to face, such as Picard having to sacrifice Crusher on the stargazer, though here Kira was only forced to watch a metaphorical death.
Sun, Nov 17, 2019, 1:50pm (UTC -5)
Another issue is the fact that the premise doesn't make any sense. As other people have said, the idea of destroying a colonisable moon to generate a tiny amount of energy is ludicrous, especially when the Federation must have so many other ways of generating energy.
But perhaps the worst problem is that the colonists in this episode are cliched stereotypes. They're little more than retired American Gothic pioneers, telling tall tales and being entertaingly grumpy in a homespun and rustic way.
Cliche upon cliche piles on with Kira electing to perform a short-lived rebellion, and the episode doesn't spring any surprises or do anything interesting with the base premise, nor does it attempt to explore the ethics of balancing the needs of the many against the few.
Not one that's really worth watching more than once!
Tue, Nov 19, 2019, 10:29am (UTC -5)
For what it's worth, I think the episode's aim is a bit different than you're suggesting. One thing is that the refusal of Mullibok to leave is different from in Ensigns of Command befoer in the latter case it was about pride and fear, and mostly stupidity. In the case of Mullibok we're given a sort of metaphoric problem, since the 'energy plot' isn't really that relevant IMO. What they're trying to say through that is that Bajor is capable of becoming much more powerful and having more 'energy' if they make alliances like with the Federation and move forward, whereas what got Bajor through the Occupation was their steadfast clinging to the past. For Mullibok (and for the Bajorans) it's not so much about thinking they're so good or anything like that, but it's about knowing they're losing their identity in this move forward.
It's true that on the literal level the plot makes a bit less sense, and the idea of Kira's rebellion isn't all that much of a surprise; but where they're going with that is to show that it takes someone who both feels the pull of the past and of the future to represent Bajor with the Federation, like Kira does.
Tue, Dec 17, 2019, 11:51am (UTC -5)
The B-plot, though -- I know I like that. I could happily watch Jake and Nog's trading shenanigans for years. "Self-sealing stem bolts" stops sounding like a real phrase after a while, and is also a fun tongue twister to try saying ten times fast (I keep coming up with "self-stealing"). I don't envy the actors having to say it so often...!
Fri, Jul 31, 2020, 9:19am (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 20, 2020, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Apart from that gripe, really enjoyed the episode and was glued to the screen watching moral dilemma Kira was forced to go through. I liked the fact she sided with the "other side" because that's the harder choice given her history.
Wed, May 19, 2021, 2:42am (UTC -5)
It was weird seeing Jesse Pinkman's dad in an episode with an A plot that also takes place in Better Call Saul.
Sat, Aug 21, 2021, 1:19am (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
I just can't get over the fact that they are willing to destroy an entire inhabitable moon, a moon that is clearly fertile and has a lot of resources, to power 200,000 homes! 200 million, or 2 Billion homes, maybe I could accept the plot, but not 200,000! Think about how many different resources that moon could provide for the people of Bajor. I just can't accept that an advanced civilization of the future would make such a poor decision.
This is a 1 star episode for me.
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 11:19am (UTC -5)
You do not know if they were offered other property. Governments do not usually just take property and give nothing in return.
Sometimes rights conflict. The right of property can conflict with the right of other people to have life.
I will even question if there is a right to property, both privately and by the government. Philosophically where did the right of property come from? Americans as very much pro right of property and non-government intervention, but then this allows for instances where a person claims the right to a resource that no one else in a nation has and then does nothing good with it. E.g. imagine is a land had limited fertile ground and one person took ownership of it (by being the first to claim rights to it or by working on it). Now that ground is not accessible to anyone else. Does it really make sense that the first to claim a piece of land should be allowed to do whatever they want with it at the determent of everyone else? In my view no one has absolute rights to any property, even the government.
Sat, Jul 9, 2022, 11:28am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 14, 2022, 10:09am (UTC -5)
I'll just say that this episode was boring.
A crotchety, quirky, ornery, eccentric old curmudgeon (who at times reminded me of a very old Johnny Cash!!!) tossing a wrench into what should've been a simple, run-of-the-mill deal. Gosh, good thing THAT's not been done since, like, two episodes ago. The best part of an hour of his and Kira's supposedly witty repartee that was instead just uber-cliched. Usually, the old dude in the end either folds or croaks; I admit the resolution didn't happen *quite* the way I thought it might, so I'll give the show that.
The story with the two kids was far more engaging. The two boys are growing on me. I like their interactions, adventures, and escapades.
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