Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

"The Homecoming"

3.5 stars

Air date: 9/27/1993
Teleplay by Ira Steven Behr
Story by Jeri Taylor and Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When Kira receives a Bajoran earring—smuggled out of a Bajoran labor camp—she goes on a mission to Cardassia IV to liberate the prisoners, who have been held in contrary to the Cardassians' promise that all their prisoners of war had been released. Kira hopes to find Li Nalas, a renowned Bajoran hero whose return to Bajor could unite the torn world in its hour of need.

The first and best of three parts, "Homecoming" follows up the promise of Bajoran political situations that last season's "In the Hands of the Prophets" left behind. Paced much like a feature film, this installment sets up the three-parter beautifully. The expanded time format provides a great deal of character development opportunities. The dialog scenes between Sisko and Kira show two characters on the same wavelength in what feels like true Federation/Bajoran interaction. Each strives to similar goals, but acknowledges that the other has its own agendas.

In the episode's second segment, Kira and O'Brien take a Runabout to Cardassia IV to rescue the prisoners. The action sequences and outdoor locations are expertly done under Winrich Kolbe's stellar direction. The episode's third segment analyzes the situation of Li Nalas (Richard Beymer), revealing a textured, multifaceted character with some fascinating dimensions. Beimler's portrayal of a hero who never even wanted to be the living legend he became is a fully realized performance. Sisko's observation that "Bajor doesn't need a hero; it needs a symbol," is especially keen.

The introduction of Minister Jaro (Frank Langella) adds nicely to the character canvas and promises to play a big part in the arc. Overall, this is a difficult episode to summarize in words; much of the success can be attributed to various pieces of interesting dialog exchanges and performances. Even though the plot is just beginning, this is a knockout season opener that covers quite a bit of ground stylistically and dramatically. Well done.

Previous episode: In the Hands of the Prophets
Next episode: The Circle

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.

◄ Season Index

34 comments on this post

Greg M
Wed, Feb 20, 2013, 2:21am (UTC -6)
Could we say that The Homecoming might be DS9's most underrated premiere episode? It sure seems that way. I watched it and the entire trilogy tonight and it still holds up really well. Loved the scenes on Cardassia 4, and Li Nalas having to adjust to being the symbol the Bajorans see him as.
Wed, Sep 11, 2013, 4:05pm (UTC -6)
i am so confused. on the Voyager section. every talks about how great DS9 is. there is usually 20-40 comments. over here... 1 comment??

anyway, very good opening show. i enjoyed it very much. great characters and story line. ds9 is a very good show.
Tue, Oct 22, 2013, 3:26pm (UTC -6)
I do not find Nalas to be a very compelling character. A decent episode on the whole.

Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 9:12am (UTC -6)
"The action sequences and outdoor locations are expertly done under Winrich Kolbe's stellar direction." Rewatched this episode on netflix and found the action sequences and outdoor locations just do not withstand the test of time (20 years). Also, graffiti is a lame form of civil disobedience particularly for a society that has just lived through an 80 year brutal occupation.
Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
Odo's line about the Promenade being "deserted at this hour" seems odd for a space station, especially an open port like's doubtful that the concept of offhours or the middle of the night would have any meaning.

And every indication is that Quark owns the bar. Rom's assertion that he should get half the profits is a bit absurd...That he got 1 share of profit for every 6 Quark did suggests he's getting 15% of the profits of a bar he seemingly doesn't even co-own.
Wed, Jun 25, 2014, 12:46pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode. Good kick-off to the second season.

I thought the whole "Kira and Obrien rescue" was pretty unrealistic. It seems like the Cardassians are horrible shots and of course Iron Mike Kyra again floors someone with twice her strength. Wouldn't it have been much more realistic to send the runabout to C4, scan for Bajorans, then present the findings and the earring to Cardassia? (Dukat)

I enjoyed the Li Nalas character and thought Richard Beymer did a fine job playing the part.

While Sisko and Kira were surprised that Dukat was apologetic, I really don't think they should have been. Cardassia already publically said they've released all Bajorans... this would have been a huge embarrassment and unlawful for the Cardassian government.

The introduction of the Circle is good and realistic.

Jaro (Frank Langella) was awesome! Very believable and comes off as a very influential leader.

Sisko/Jake first date stuff was good.

I loved the interchanges between Sisko and Li Nalas.

"LI: But I am not the man that they think I am.
SISKO: Perhaps not. But Bajor doesn't need a man. It needs a symbol, and that's what you are. No one's asking you to lead troops into battle, or to kill a hundred Cardassians with your bare hands. I saw you in front of the crowd on the Promenade. They look at you and they see strength, and honor, and decency. They look at you and they see the best in themselves.
LI: But it's all based on a lie.
SISKO: No. It's based on a legend. And legends are as powerful as any truth. Bajor still needs that legend. It needs you."

Sisko not really caring about how Li really killed that Cardassian and bringing perspective to Li. All good stuff.

Then of course....

"Major Kira is no longer assigned to this post. She's been recalled to Bajor."

Jaw hit the floor... how's that for a cliff hanger? :-)

3 out of 4 stars for me.
Ian G
Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 1:09pm (UTC -6)
I really enjoy this whole arc which starts at the end of the first season. The action sequences were from 90's TV so the standards were much lower then, but I still thought they held up fairly well. DS9 has a really funny trip of giving tiny Kira, who weighs in at a whopping 115 lbs, an iron fist that can knock any character, no matter how large and powerful they are, down with one hit. I also thought that it was odd that the nature of the political violence was toned way down to graffiti and branding Quark, compared to religious extremism fueled bombings and assassinations from the previous episode which seemed more appropriate for a society that fought a 50 year long insurgency with terrorist tactics.
Kevin Mc
Fri, Sep 5, 2014, 11:51am (UTC -6)
Just realised, very slow of me, that Le Nalis (however it's spelled) is Twin Peaks' very own Benjamin Horn.
Fri, Nov 14, 2014, 2:05pm (UTC -6)
And we're back.

When we last left our heroes...

DS9 had accomplished the following :
In terms of a Trek spin-off, the first season was a bit of a disappointment. Weak sci-fi elements and a very mixed bag of characterisations left me feeling rather blah about the series. There are enough admirable characters (O'Brien, Odo, Quark) to hold my interest amidst the ignoble (Sisko), boring (Dax) and schizophrenic (Kira).

As a show wishing to distinguish itself from its predecessors, three major trends emerged :

1) format: DS9 is playing like a concentrated version of TNG's 6th season in terms of recurring characters and tighter, more consequential continuity, which is fun. I've always said that this kind of quasi-serialised storytelling is rewarding the viewer for his loyalty to the programme. Nothing wrong with that.

2) politics: Many of the stories tend to shy away from the mythologised, allegorical approach of traditional Trek in favour of political realism. While I don't disparage the team for wanting to take this approach, it's an incredibly difficult task to pull off in a sci-fi setting like Trek's. In most fictional universes, there are many elements from contemporary culture which are basically replicated or transposed into the fiction for the sake of making the universe seem more real; comic books still involve global politics alongside magic and superhuman adventures, series like nuBSG use a pastiche of contemporary socio-political models against the sci-fi elements. The problem in Trek is that the "fictional universe" is quite specifically not meant to be fiction so much as extrapolation. It's set in the *real* future, a place where, according to the creators, our current socio-political climate will eventually lead. When one adopts the comic-book model of contemporary pastiche, one directly contradicts this model. That in and of itself is not terrible, but of course in Trek's case, the model which is extrapolated is not arbitrary but quite specifically didactic; it's not only the future which will happen, but which *should* happen, so we say. The Trek ethos is built around this ubiquitous "should* and, assuming for the moment that the creators had no ulterior motivation, in their attempt to create political realism, they have generated a disquieting tension with this ethos. As of yet, however, this is all it is: tension. Tension is not a bad thing. After all it feels like drama.

3) religion: This topic is of course intimately tied with #2, however, the series has been remarkably inept in dealing with the issue no matter what position one takes. As contemporary analogy it's downright insulting to both those with actual religious beliefs and modern atheists. The only group this kind of schlock writing seems to appease is the apologist crowd which likes to congratulate itself on its supposed tolerance of religious belief to which the majority of Sisko's comments in ItHofP pander. Despite these missteps, there is still potential in this focal point for the series, however.

On to Season 2 …

Teaser : ***, 5%

We start out with a familiar motif from S1, Odo questioning Quark in as Gestapoish a manner as he can get away with. In this case, it is Quark's apparent *honesty* which makes Odo suspicious; Quark tipped Odo off to a smuggling ring as an overture to a “truce.” Cute. Rom 2.0 (the lower-case idiot) makes an appearance to remind us to hate him.

Quark meets with a living Troll doll with tits who has in her possession a Bajoran earring (you know, ALL Bajorans wear them like ALL Catholics wear crosses, right?).

Cut to a third scene: Kira guiding in a aeroplane for landing in her quarters...oh wait, no, she's praying. Quark flirts a bit then offers Kira the earring which we learn was found on Cardassia IV. Kira recognises it, so it seems, steals it from Quark and runs out. So we've got a little mystery, a little humour. Also, note there are no Starfleet officers depicted in the entire (long) teaser. Very interesting.

Act 1 : **.5, 17%

Next re-introductions are the Siskos, Jake and Ben. Cirroc Lofton has become a bit more animated, which I actually find kind of grating. I preferred some of his understated performances from last season. Brooks is the same as ever, uncomfortable, with very little in terms of natural cadence in his speaking or movements. We also get another contemporary retcon, though subtle; Jake is studying algebra, which either means he takes the short-runabout to school or they've again chosen to write humans like they're from 1990, and not the 24th century (remember that 8-year-old who was studying calculus on TNG?). What follows is a laborious little scene straight out of your typical sitcom of the era; Jake asks out a girl and Ben offers intrusive advice, blah blah, you've seen this about a thousand times already.

For once I'm please to see Kira burst in to break up this tedium and asks him to borrow a runabout (not before we're treated to 45 riveting seconds wherein Sisko orders coffee and pie from two different replicators). Kira reveals that the earring belongs to a prisoner of war, Li Nalis, whom she intends to rescue. Showing a remarkable surge in wisdom following the events of “Duet,” the provisional government has decided that this earring is an insufficient motivator for risking a war with the Cardassians. Obviously grasping at straws, Kira wheedles at Sisko, claiming Nalis would make an opportune leader for the fractured Bajoran people.

O'Brien calls to report the discovery of a spray-painted circle, symbol of a Bajoran supremacist movement (The Circle). Real creative by the way, using spray paint. Doesn't that just smack of the 24th century?

Act 2 : **, 17%

So, the real premise for the show is put forth plainly in a conversation between Sisko and Dax (preluded, of course, with pandering bits of backstory “Kurzon liked talking about baseball”). Bajor is unstable, having backtracked significantly it seems from the comradeship which was a major theme in last season's finale. Sisko believes (read: hopes) that Kira's contact, Li Nalis, might be the solution to his problems. Ever the opportunist, he is quickly convinced to acquiesce to Kira's request. In one of those painful “lets all smile at each other awkwardly” scenes which exemplify 90s television, Sisko informs Kira of his decision, which includes sending O'Brien along. Even as I write these line-by-line little reviews, I'm struggling to convey just how incredibly boring the construction of these scenes is. Trek is usually a slow burn, and I personally like it that way. But in that sizzle there's usually an artfulness, a sweep, an underlying intensity which is basically absent from all these scenes. It's a lot of pedestrian dialogue with two-dimensional musical cues and utilitarian camera work.

Act 3 : *.5, 17%

Kira and O'Brien run into a bit of trouble and pose as a Lessepian transport (The Martok, isn't that cute?). We are treated to yet *another* clichéd scene where Kira bluffs the Cardassian ship over the comm, muting in between every single exchange so that she and O'Brien can state the obvious to each other (“They're getting suspicious”). Gee, do you think the extended pauses in your response might have something to do with that, Major? Well that was utterly pointless (a growing trend). So in an episode purporting to deliver upon serious themes, several minutes of potential dialogue which could address, I don't know, the commonalities between O'Brien and Kira, their shared experiences fighting Cardassians, Kira's misgivings and concerns, O'Brien's worry about leaving his baby fatherless, are spent on a routine, cheap and dull bit of outwitting the bad guys. What a shame.

O'Brien discovers that Li Nalis' is one of several Bajoran life signs on Cardassia IV, indicating the Cardassians were, not surprisingly, totally dishonest about returning their prisoners after the withdrawal. I'm sure we'll see consequences. The two decide to land in order to mount a rescue.

On the surface, we get some more clichéd labour camp tricks, you can probably guess; the Cardassian guards needlessly strut about shoving he barrels of their weapons in the Bajorans' backs, ordering them “back to work.”

Okay, let's pause and consider the logic of this next scene: O'Brien, a human, is on a Cardassian planet with Kira, a Bajoran woman, trying to pedal her as a prostitute. Even if one does not totally buy in to the Roddenberry ideal, the idea that a human could be believed to be PIMPING on a planet which was very recently at war with his people is so fucking ridiculous, I'm surprised the guards didn't shoot them both right there. Ah, but surrendering to logic would rob of us more coma-inducing clichéd bullshit; guard is dumb and horny, Kira feigns condescension, O'Brien feigns greed, and –I bet you didn't see this coming—Kira pulls a fast one and Trek-fus her way into the camp. Oh, and throw in the fact that all of Kira's and O'Brien's phaser fire hits its target, while the Cardassians can only seem to hit extras. Most of the prisoners make it back to the runabout, Li Nalis amongst them, and they zoom off back to DS9.

Act 4 : ***, 17%

Upon her return, Kira discovers that Sisko and Dukat are conversing via subspace. In that satisfying oily way of his, Dukat conveys to Kira that his people have formally apologised for holding Bajoran prisoners on Cardassia IV (notice he avoids actually apologising to Kira. Nice). The Cardassians are obviously playing chess, but the question is, what advantage did holding Li Nalis provide them, that it was worth maintaining such a pointless little labour camp in secret?

After Bashir treats Li, the Bajoran leader, Minister Jarro is brought on board DS9. He chastises Kira for “declaring war on Cardassia.” Basically, he gives Kira the same guff Sisko will habitually dole out: “As an officer, I condemn what you did. As a private man, I condone it. So fuck off you wonderful you.” Got to love those principled men.

Meanwhile, Li is thrust into the spotlight by popular demand, but it's Jarro who ends up revelling it, yucking it up with the expected platitudes. Li is...skeptical. Later in private, Sisko returns to his opportunity—the reason he authorised Kira's little adventure. Li is needed to provide political stability to Bajor. He doesn't seem the most likely candidate, does he?

Interlude with a Ferengi : It's payday and Quark is allotting Rom his salary (a sixth what Quark allots himself—seems generous given our current economic disparity). Suddenly, a group of angry thespians bursts in to the bar and assault poor, moderately greedy Quark. The scene should be rather terrifying, but the costumes on the assailants are so goofy and the music so hackneyed, that it's really more hilarious than frightening.

Act 5 : ***.5, 17%

It turns out, they assailants were just trying to brand Quark with their circle graffiti. Why Quark? He's not a Bajoran, duh. They should have tried branding Odo. At any rate it serves as the convenient demonstration to Li about how badly he's needed to bring order to Bajor.

Reïnforcing this theme, Ben comes home to discover his son was stood up by his date on account of some good-ol'-fashioned racism (the girl's father didn't want her dating a non-Bajoran). While I'm usually pretty immune to the Ben/Jake dreck that passes for family drama, in this case I found the scene effective: short, to the point, non-histrionic and moving.

Immediately after Jake heads to bed, Sisko is informed that Li has tried to stow away aboard an alien vessel rather than own up to the mantel placed before him. It turns out Li's notoriety (and ensuing hero-status) is based on a bit of mis-information—Li's great “savage struggle” was really a bit of accidental luck accompanied by pathetic circumstances (an unarmed Gul in his underwear). Li “allowed [himself] to be a slave to his reputation,” but he's had enough and now that he's free of the Cardassians, he wants to be free of his own people. Being a stubbornly credulous people, it doesn't really matter that Li's fame is based on a lie, they need him to be a symbol for his people (just like Berail in ItHotP).

Li is given a newly-created political title, “Navok,” as well as Kira's job as liaison officer to DS9 (casually announced by Jarro). 10 points if you can guess who the bad guy is!

Episode as Functionary : ***, 10%

The episode ends up really working in the end, with some well-crafted thematic storytelling and a sufficiently tense cliff-hanger, without feeling forced. But getting there was a lot rougher than necessary. Much of the first few acts feel like unnecessary padding (even though we needed Kira to risk her life and defy orders to tie into the cliff-hanger). Not unnoticed go the historical rewrites to 24th century Federation culture. They may seem like trivialities (Jake's math level, O'Brien's perceived monetary needs, etc.), but these little bits tend to add up over the course of the series. As I mentioned in the teaser, the interesting parts of the episode have everything to do with the Bajoran and Cardassian characters, and basically nothing with Starfleet or the Federation, which is fine, but under those circumstances, the last thing this feels like is Star Trek. Overall, the episode continues season 1 trends, but excises the sci-fi element completely, focusing on political observation, with some tired character elements thrown in.

Final Score : **.5
Wed, Feb 18, 2015, 8:05am (UTC -6)
I really liked this episode and the other 2 parts. I loved the way Sisko put Kira in her place, she is rude and thinks her issues are more important than anyones'. Sisko finished talking to his son and ordered breakfast and she had to wait. He also sent O'brien with her on this mission. During the first 3 seasons Kira was still a loose cannon and had to be put in her place. She wanted to borrow a Federation runabout, but didn't want a Federation ciizen with her. She never would have accomplished her mission alone. She needed O'brien.

Although Jaro was wrong, he also let Kira know she had to answer to her superiors. Bareil let her know he had to protect her and it was not her job to protect him. Her arrogance got her into trouble more than once until she learned to be a team player and accept the Federation's help. Also the Emissary learned to respect her beliefs.
Tue, May 26, 2015, 5:03pm (UTC -6)
Okay, let's pause and consider the logic of this next scene: O'Brien, a human, is on a Cardassian planet with Kira, a Bajoran woman, trying to pedal her as a prostitute. Even if one does not totally buy in to the Roddenberry ideal, the idea that a human could be believed to be PIMPING on a planet which was very recently at war with his people is so fucking ridiculous, I'm surprised the guards didn't shoot them both right there. Ah, but surrendering to logic would rob of us more coma-inducing clichéd bullshit; guard is dumb and horny, Kira feigns condescension, O'Brien feigns greed, and –I bet you didn't see this coming—Kira pulls a fast one and Trek-fus her way into the camp. Oh, and throw in the fact that all of Kira's and O'Brien's phaser fire hits its target, while the Cardassians can only seem to hit extras. Most of the prisoners make it back to the runabout, Li Nalis amongst them, and they zoom off back to DS9.


That sums up the writing on offer perfectly.
Wed, May 27, 2015, 7:43am (UTC -6)
@DLPB - I assume some "research" was skipped here. He's not pimping her out like a "cold call", the story is that she has an "appointment" with the prefect.

Obviously the prefect has a habit of having female Bajoran visitors and that's why they concocted the story. The fact that a human owns a ship and uses it to ferry prostitutes to high end clientele... it's certainly anti-Roddenberry, but I don't think it's completely impossible.

The horny guard that opens the force field is waaay too convenient, I'll grant you that. But stupid guards are practically a Star Trek tradition dating back to fizzbin.

As for our heroes hitting their targets and the bad guys being a poor mark... it's convenient but not as bad as when our heroes manage to fend off an entire battalion of Klingon WARRIORS in hand to hand combat.

TLDR - Some suspension of disbelief required, but I didn't find the pimping that unbelievable.
Fri, May 29, 2015, 8:45pm (UTC -6)
I disagree. Suspension of disbelief has a limit and very poor storytelling breaks it.

Those two landing on the planet and then freeing everyone single-handedly with that ridiculous ruse was just laughable. Do you really believe that would have worked? Or, to put it another way, if your life was on the line, would YOU attempt that strategy? Of course not. Because it's stupid.
Mon, Jun 1, 2015, 7:36am (UTC -6)
"Or, to put it another way, if your life was on the line, would YOU attempt that strategy?"

No. Too many things fell into place conveniently for me to have had the balls to try that myself.
William B
Sun, Jul 19, 2015, 11:28am (UTC -6)
Building on (some of) what worked in the last two episodes of last season, there seems to be a lot of effort to hit the ground running in this second season premiere, which starts telling a sprawling continuity-heavy story, focused on politics, legends, the fate of Bajor as a planet, large amounts of plot. Even the incidental dialogue seems to be infused with a new energy designed to rejuvenate the show. Of course, breaking into a run like this can lead to panting and even tripping, and there's a lot of that in this episode too; much of the self-consciously "clever" dialogue falls flat and scans as artificial, the action is rote and silly, and as far as the broader political implications, well....

Material on the Circle is mostly stage-setting, which is fine except insofar as we are much more told about the reasons behind the Circle's formation. As with season one, I feel like the show fails to sufficiently diversify its Bajoran cast, and so while we can certainly imagine why Bajorans would resort to extremism, it would be nice to have some character in the Circle so that we can get a taste for what it is that they actually want. The Circle is to take centre stage (or at least title significance) in the following episode, so, maybe that will be good, but for now the main purpose is to show how Bajor is In Trouble so that first Sisko and then Li himself are sold on the absolute necessity of Li Nalas swooping in to save Bajorans by, uh, "being a legend," I guess.

I like Li himself, though we don't get *that* much time with him this episode. (Richard Beymer, who plays Li, is probably best known as Ben Horne in Twin Peaks, and in his youth as Tony in West Side Story.) If the multi-part episode were smart, it would make explicit the parallels between Li and Sisko -- Li and Sisko both end up being legendary figures to Bajorans, taking on a mythic status that they did not ask for and may not be earned. The "Man Who Shot Liberty Valance"-style reveal that Li did nothing to earn and could do nothing to dissuade the mythmaking that sprang up around him is fairly effective; Sisko's *very quickly* ignoring the truth and telling Li that he must use his legendary status is one heck of a leap for Sisko to make in an instant, as if Sisko genuinely does *not* care about the truth at all and readjusts to whatever narrative is most convenient at a given moment. Would Kira react so well to the discovery that Li is Not Who He Says He Is? Is it really fair to Li to expect him to spend years of his life in a prison camp and then come out into another kind of slavery -- slavery to an image he never asked for? What exactly is Li supposed to *do* that will magically unite Bajor? These questions are brushed off pretty quickly, though hopefully the second (& third) part will examine them.

The material with Li reminds me of "Rightful Heir" in TNG, though I much prefer "RH" for several reasons, not the least of which is that there have been years of building up what kinds of conflicts underlie modern Klingons (through show more than tell). And further: the priests who cloned Kahless were attempting to use a lie to transform the Klingon race and to help them. However, what Worf does at the end of the episode is subtly different. Worf recommends giving Kahless a spiritual-advisory position, but (as far as I understand it) has no intention of hiding the fact that this Kahless is a clone from the people; he recognizes Kahless' value as myth and symbol while maintaining a commitment to the truth, demonstrating his ability to mediate between the monks' recognition of Klingon symbolic needs with Gowron's correct recognition that they should not manipulate their people with lies. Sisko doesn't even consider that the truth may be valuable, which is part of what makes him a little bit frightening (and his preference for what is convenient over what is true is a major feature of, e.g., "In the Pale Moonlight").

Anyway, the symbolic power of Li as brave killer of Cardassians is, notably, pretty similar to the symbolic power that, for different ends, Marritza and Winn wanted to exploit in the last two episodes of the season: they want to use a lie to create sweeping changes. "History is a set of lies agreed upon," according to Napoleon, and this is mostly the take offered so far. So where does this lead people who find themselves thrust into the centre of the lie, and, like Li, ultimately do not want either to lie or to be at the centre?

Similarly, I'm not clear exactly what people expect Li to *do*; Sisko says that he saw Li up there talking to the crowd, but can Li really use his figurehead position to stop terrorists and whatnot?

As a quick aside, I do get that Sisko loves his son and doesn't love Quark, but I also find the contrast between SHUT UP QUARK after being assaulted in his bar and having a hot poker scald a brand onto his head, versus "no one deserves to be made a victim like you have been" over Jake's date canceling on him.

Elliott and dlpb's comments on the ridiculousness of Kira and O'Brien's rescue scene on Cardassia Four are right on. Additionally, seriously, what did that Cardassian guard *think* a *BAJORAN* was doing at their SUPER SECRET LABOUR CAMP?

It's an okay setup, though I find it doesn't go deep enough into the things I really want to know about -- which is of course subjective. It's hard to evaluate as its own episode though. I guess I'll say a high 2.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Nov 8, 2015, 12:24pm (UTC -6)
Strong opening to the new season. The individual story of Li Nalas
plays out against the bigger backdrop of Bajoran politics as it intrudes even in the relative isolation of DS9. It's a perfect example of how the truth can be subsumed for a greater purpose - and what it means for Li to live a lie. For Sisko, it's an impressive case of maintaining order from chaos as events look to spin out of control. Jaro brings an interesting Christopher Lee like gravitas to procedings.

The action sequences are well handled, albeit the rescue itself is somewhat implausible. And Quark getting branded after ripping off Rom also rates high in the satisfaction stakes.

A good set up. 3 stars.
Mon, Feb 8, 2016, 8:39pm (UTC -6)
Given that the Cardassians were supposed to have released all Bajoran prisoners, I can't understand why, upon discovery of 12 Bajorans in a labor camp, they didn't just to report it to Starfleet and let the Federation handle it.
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:11am (UTC -6)
Now this is how I like my Star Trek (how I like my sci-fi in general) - political intrigue and world-building galore.

If "The Homecoming" has any single flaw it's that it attempts to do to much in just one episode. There's the Circle's introduction, the arrival of Li Nalas, the introduction of Minister Jaro, a rescue attempt, a possible war with Cardassia, and examinations of hero worship, legends and self-sacrifice. Not to mention another appearance by Dukat which provides hints that the Cardassians are up to something. And, oh yeah, they also found time for Quark to get himself branded at one point. As a result, some stuff feels a little rushed - like the Circle itself (for such a well-organized, planet-wide political revolution they sure hit the scene remarkably quickly).

Still, this is a remarkably well done episode; thanks in no small part to the fact that Li Nalas is such a likable character. As he's the linchpin of so many of the sub-plots, if the actor hadn't been up to the task, it would probably have crippled everything.

Good drama, good action, good characters and a wonderfully complex situation for our heroes. What's not to love?

Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:39am (UTC -6)
Now that you mention it, Luke, this is one of the great DS9 episodes in hindsight because it focuses on Bajoran politics and relations with the Federation in very grounded and Bajoran-centric terms.

It's unfortunate that much of that political intrigue goes away from Bajoran when the Dominion come (and Bajor's entry into the Federation was forgotten about). Actually, I wonder if it's because DS9's writers dislike happy endings that they let the viewer decide for themselves whether Bajor entered the Federation or not.
Sun, Feb 14, 2016, 9:57am (UTC -6)
Indeed. While I'm perfectly happy with what we ended up getting, I would have loved it if we had spent more time focusing on Bajoran politics.

As for Bajor's admittance to the Federation - it wasn't completely forgotten about. It is mentioned a couple of times in later episodes. And, Bajor almost joins the UFP in "Rapture", until Sisko stops them. I've heard that the topic is addressed in the Relaunch novels, but I haven't read any of them.
Wed, Mar 2, 2016, 8:54am (UTC -6)
Yeah, getting into the camp never seemed quite right to me. I'd think they'd find a deserted area of the camp, beam into it, quietly take out a few guards, remove a tv remote control and bring down the fence, shoot some guards, run like hell, bring the fence down again (he was the only one with a remote?), run some more, etc.

Or, beam the guards to the other side of the planet, one or two at a time, while disabling their communicators and weapons (maybe take their pants too), then beam the prisoners out.

If they'd been on Bajor during the occupation, I could see a Bajoran 'lady' being brought to the commandant, but not in this place.


Li has been in a labor camp for many years (as many as ten), but doesn't take any time off to collect his thoughts or decompress or anything. He goes to Bajor, heads to the government and asks "How can I help?". Minister Jaro steps in and says "I'll handle this". He then gets thoughtful, pulls a name out of his asp, declares Li will be Navok, and sends him to Deep Space Nine. Umm... couldn't Li simply have said 'No'? Tell them he was there to unify the people, not to be sent away again, right after he got back?

My last nit... why in the world would the Cardassians, after taking everything from the prisoners, allow them to keep their ear jewelry?

Take care Everyone... RT

P.S.: You may distribute this article freely, but may not make a profit from it. Actual cash value of this website is 1/1000th of a cent. This article does not reflect the thoughts or opinions of either myself, my company, my friends, or my cat. Don't quote me on that. Don't quote me on anything.
Fri, May 27, 2016, 6:48am (UTC -6)
Well, I like the idea that they were able to land and get almost everyone off the planet, it made sense, since the occupation was over and no one thought they would find those prisoners on Cardassia IV. They weren't expecting a jailbreak. My question was, how did Kira even think she could have gotten Li off the planet all by herself.
Thu, Mar 30, 2017, 4:34pm (UTC -6)
Great fun! A good beginning to Season 2 and I'm glad to get back to DS9 again! I loved Kira and Chief off on a mission together--and I liked the way their rescue played out. I would assume that a prison camp out in the boondocks wouldn't need too many guards. How far could an escaped Bajoran get on a Cardassian planet?
Thu, Aug 10, 2017, 10:49pm (UTC -6)
4 stars!

These kind of epic episodes with lots of players providing lots of differing perspectives and agendas with high stakes is DS9 at its best and what it excelled at

--loved how Quark got the ball
Rolling by bringing Nalas' earring to Kira from his Boslick freighter captain

--then Kira asking sisko for a runabout

--good scene with Dax making a good argument to Sisko as to why he should give Kira the runabout

--liked Miles joining her and their ruse to get passed Cardassian security. Also appreciated the realistic behavior displayed by Kira waiting til last minute to close the runabout door to give the others a chance to escape as a Cardassian warship is closing in

--liked way Jaro brought Into things by coming to station to welcome Li home and takes advantage of the opportunity to steal the limelight

--thumbs up sisko/Li discussion at the end

Ep ended with a great cliffhanger !

The first season did absolutely nothing for me but when I read TV Guide article talking about DS9 doing a three part story at start of season two I had to check it out and was happy I did
Sat, Sep 9, 2017, 8:47am (UTC -6)
The enslaved Bajorans at Cardassia IV don't realize that the occupation is over, but I have to assume the Cardassian guards do, so the moment O'Brien and Kira showed up, they had to figure the jig was up. The Cardassian gaurd wouldn't have had anything to lose by shooting them on sight so they didn't tell the prisoners, but if they did kill them, the Federation would come to the planet in force. So either way, the labor camp was done.
Wed, Dec 27, 2017, 11:17am (UTC -6)
Who's the glad-handing dandy?
Thu, Feb 22, 2018, 9:37pm (UTC -6)
Interesting setup to kick off Season 2 with Bajor descending into anarchy and a reluctant hero supposed to rally it together. I like the dynamic with Kira and Sisko both hoping to use Li Nalas to serve their own ends. Jaro seems an interesting character -- portrayed by a reputable actor -- definitely multidimensional/multilayered -- drops a bombshell as the episode ends with Kira supposedly leaving DS9. Good cliffhanger here. Wouldn't mind seeing more of Jaro...

Kind of knew from the outset that there was something strange about Li Nalas and so the actor playing him does a good job in creating that sense of doubt. Hardly ever came across as a hero and then he tells Sisko his story. Sisko's line about truth/legend/symbol is a good one although I don't know how realistic it is that Li Nalas could become a legend to the Bajoran people in the 1st place after shooting a Gul while he was in his underwear. The idea that people who have known Li Nalas for a long time (and probably didn't think he could be such a hero) all of a sudden consider him an icon as his story gets distorted beyond belief is a stretch. Nevertheless, a legend is born and for a strongly faith-based people, it takes on incredible power. I guess I'm a bit surprised he warmed up to Sisko so quickly as well.

As the first part in a short arc, we get some fledgling stories/arcs starting (Jake's dating is the least important -- but there is this xenophobic Circle movement which sound interesting). And what of Dukat's proclamation that Cardassia is Bajor's friend? Fair bit here that is up in the air.

As for the rescue of Li Nalas, seemed overly easy -- fooling the Cardassian outpost, the phaser fight, not meeting any resistance from Cardassian ships etc. I found this part of the episode overly simplistic.

But what's great is the depth being put in to create the complexities of the Bajoran world and the complications for the Federation to fulfill its mission. Coming after the end of Season 1 with the 2 vedics Winn and Bareil -- it's a hot mess, but a fascinating one.

3 stars for "The Homecoming" -- some parts were a bit hard to believe (the rescue, how Li Nalas got his reputation) but we have the start of a solid story, good/complex characters and acting. The episode did play out like a long drama, making the use of not having to solve everything in an hour. Quite satisfying and intriguing.
Wed, Jul 25, 2018, 1:51pm (UTC -6)
"The Homecoming" sets up the three part arc well. Unfortunately, it's not a very exciting or interesting episode in its own right.

2.5 stars.
Tue, Nov 27, 2018, 9:52pm (UTC -6)
Huh. Wasn't expecting a two parter.

Part 2 will have to wait for tomorrow, as I am not exactly on the edge of my seat.

Actor playing Li just isn't selling it. Doesn't seem at all like someone with the power and charisma to unite Bajor.

And why would the Bajoran govt give him such an odd assignment? How will he unite Bajor from the Station? Shouldn't he be traveling about Bajor?

Maybe part 2 will help this all make more sense. And hopefully be more interesting.

I do love Frank Langella. Now, he's selling his role just fine.

The ep did further fill out the picture of what did, and is, happening on Bajor, so that's good, though I don't really like "all Bajor, all the time." I miss zooming around the quadrants with the various captains and their crews. Maybe Bajor will grow on me.

Good night, Trekoletti.
Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
The biggest issue I have with these episodes is that Bajor is a PLANET. Yet they constantly act like we are talking about a city. Kira saying she has to go because she knows the terrain of Bajor, like that sounds so silly if you replace Bajor with Earth.

I also found the break out way too easy. This is my first foray into Star Trek so I know nothing about the Cardassians other than what we have been told so far, which is that they are terrifying and being put in one of their jail's is worse than death itself. Then you see the prison and it's like 3 guys walking around with super healthy looking prisoners. The Cardassians didn't even look remotely threatening so I dunno.

I liked this episode a lot though and the other 2 parts of it so no complaints here.
Thu, Sep 17, 2020, 10:34pm (UTC -6)
Great point from Jack above: why is Rom getting any share in profits from a bar he doesn't own?
Paul M.
Thu, Dec 17, 2020, 6:25am (UTC -6)
I thought this was a fine continuation of the general themes DS9 had (finally) committed to in the last season finale. It's nice to see the show embrace its own storytelling strengths and chart a more distinct course compared to TNG.

The episode's first half was a competent prison break/rescue scenario which I feel was fairly good. Trek is often guilty, especially in later shows, of staging incoherent action scenes just for the sake of staging them (the infamous action quotient) that have no clear raison d'etre and that generally serve as a way to provide a simple (and lazy) resolution to a story. Not so here. The mission has a clear goal and stakes, as well as solid location shooting (especially for Trek standards; it's nice to see the guys under the blue skies for a change). The pacing was good and the story didn't get bogged down in extraneous details.

The second half of the episode was even better. I always like when DS9 devotes time and screen presence to political issues and they are certainly here on display. Li Nalas, in this episode at least, is a compelling presence, the true story of his legend that he shares with Sisko was actually quite surprising to me, as I don't think I encountered it in fiction much. Definitely a more intriguing take on the unlikely hero trope than usually presented. I was also intrigued by Sisko's reaction. After thinking some more about it, I believe it paints Sisko in a different, one might say less flattering light as compared to Picard, but it is an interesting position. In fiction, it is almost expected to advocate for some form of self-sacrifice when the person you're talking to is already a hero, albeit an unwilling one. But when the person in question, in this instance Li Nalas, is not and has never been what one might call "a hero", expecting him to assume a burden of embracing this myth thrust upon him is a compelling philosophical predicament. I am reminded of that old saying, "in order for evil to win it's enough for good people to stand aside and do nothing. It's ultimately not important what Li actually did if the power of his legend can help bring about a better Bajor. I am not sure if this position is tenable in the long term, but it is something worth thinking about, and I think favoring this point of view brings some additional nuance to Sisko's character.

Solid three stars *** / 8 out of 10
Thu, Mar 31, 2022, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
Season 1 ends with two of DS9s best, and Season 2 begins the same way with another of DS9s best episodes. I love the discussion about how Bajor needs Li Nalas to be a symbol, more than they need the truth. I also loved the cliff hanger, caught me totally off guard.
Mon, Jun 6, 2022, 10:42am (UTC -6)
I've always liked this trilogy and felt that reviewers were hard on it. It has some flaws in terms of logic, plotting, and (in the case of part 1) the prison break. But it holds together remarkably well and shows how much potential DS9 had -- even this early on -- to develop and execute intricate, engaging story arcs. The overall "vibe" of this trilogy sells it for me. You have a sense that you're watching something unique (relative to TNG), and you really get to see the characters gel. It's engrossing Trek that rewards people who enjoy continuity and consequences (albeit within 90s TV limits).

Indeed, most of the flaws in this episode have to do with the pacing and the need for exposition to fill in the gaps in our understanding of the developing political upheaval on Bajor. It's difficult to introduce this xenophobic movement, have it develop into a coup d'etat, and then wrap up that insurrection, all in the span of something like 2.25 hours of running time, and still have that seem realistic (as opposed to just dropped in our laps). An example that stuck out for me in this episode was Sisko explaining (or declaring) to Li in Quark's (after the branding), that, "people don't have faith in the provisional government's ability to get things done, so they turn to the Circle." I'm paraphrasing. But this is a failure of the adage, "show, don't tell" for sure. Aside from "In the Hands of the Prophets" last season, there's very little in the way of buildup or on screen happenings to substantiate what Sisko is saying. It comes out of nowhere because it is convenient to the plot.

This approach sticks out to me in comparison to something like Babylon 5 which (without spoiling too much) showcased the development of a totalitarian state over at least a season, if not more. This is perhaps an unfair comparison, because B5 was unique in 90s TV for its use of pre-planned story arcs. And even that plot thread wasn't developed perfectly. JMS (B5's creator, producer, and primary writer) tended to exposit things in a clunky way at times as well. But B5 overall was better at buildup and payoff, something that DS9 wouldn't even get to attempt until later seasons.

Anyway, overall, I like the Bajoran stuff (more than some on this site, it seems), and would give every installment of this trilogy a solid 3 stars.

Submit a comment

I agree to the terms of use

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2023 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. Terms of use.