In "The Circle," Kira is recalled to Bajor, replaced by Li Nalas at the order of Minister Jaro and the provisional government. Meanwhile, the layered plot of political intrigue continues to unfold, as Odo discovers that the Circle—an extremist Bajoran group that wants nothing to do with the Federation and employs violence in its attempt to gain widespread Bajoran support—is unknowingly being supplied weapons by the Cardassians through a third party.
Like the first part, this manages to tell a lot of story while still maintaining a respectably slow pace. Kira's time at a Bajoran monastery proves quite interesting—the idea of Kira trying to be "useless" seems exactly like the type of thing she wouldn't agree with. And her encounter with the orb as she explores her pagh is downright powerful; the imagery is effective and the vivid symbolism and foreshadowing proves incredibly intriguing.
Minister Jaro turns out to be the leader of the Circle, and his motives—that of a Bajoran who has seen enough governments come and go—strike me as completely believable. One beauty of DS9's political backdrop is the way it allows the analysis of events that unfold; Jaro isn't simply a villain, he's an adamant man who, in his mind, has been forced into the direction he has taken and sets his sights for it. Such characters and their actions make for a compelling story that's believable.
One problem with the episode, however, is some of its pacing, particularly some slightly off-kilter scenes involving Vedek Winn. Two of her extended dialog scenes—one involving her and Jaro, and the other involving her, Bareil, and Kira—drag on longer than they should, and they don't quite have the powerful payoff they deserve. Such dialog isn't on the level of Sisko and Li Nalas' discussion in "The Homecoming."
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