Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Air date: 5/22/1995
Written by Gordon Dawson
Directed by Jonathan West
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"I didn't fight the Cardassians for 25 years just so I could start shooting other Bajorans." — Shakaar
When the First Minister of the Bajoran Provisional Government dies, Kai Winn steps up into his place with intentions of running for office and becoming Bajor's government leader for the next six years. Shortly thereafter, she visits the station and requests Major Kira to convince Shakaar—one of Kira's closest friends and allies from the resistance—to return some rare government-issued farm equipment to be put to more urgent use.
At last, a meaty return to the Bajoran political arc, something that hasn't been directly explored since the opening trilogy of the second season. It's an interesting but slightly unfocused story that doesn't further develop the arc but only presents a short-term problem which is solved within the hour. The long-term effects of the show are negligible.
Beginning as a recap of "Progress" in which Kira is forced into taking the side of the common good over the side of the struggling individual, the episode turns into a confrontation when Winn refuses to listen to the proposals for compromise Shakaar wishes to present. Instead, she sends security forces after Shakaar to arrest him. Kira joins him and finds herself on the run with Shakaar and a number of allies.
"Just like old times," someone comments. Shakaar ends up with a formidable team of followers. As they are chased through a number of valleys and terrain, these characters seem to fall right back into the cat-and-mouse routine of the Cardassian Occupation. Kira's reunion with old friends Lupaza (Diane Salinger) and Furel (William Lucking) talking about old times proves quite absorbing, particularly the early scene at Shakaar's simple residence. However, they recognize the difference between fighting Cardassians and fighting other Bajorans, many of which they battled alongside during the Occupation.
Tensions mount, neighboring providences start taking sides, and an armed militia unit led by Colonel Lenaris (John Doman) begins zeroing in on Shakaar and his team. This is all due to Winn's misguided attempts to be sure order is restored without embarrassment to herself. Winn has the nerve to request Starfleet security backup. Sisko tells her no, then speaks his mind (albeit diplomatically), telling Winn that she is risking civil war over some farm equipment. She retorts with a threat to withdraw Bajor's application to the Federation. At this point, I seriously doubt Winn's ability to be any type of leader of Bajor, whether spiritual, political, or whatever. She's totally incompetent and looks downright evil as she voices that Shakaar will be stopped by any means necessary.
Shakaar and Lenaris' teams meet, and what could've been a deadly phaser fight fortunately ends in a plausible, nonviolent fashion. These two leaders both realize what's at stake, and after 25 years of war with the Cardassians, they know what needs to be done.
The resolution is negotiated off-camera, in which Lenaris disbands the two forces and lets everybody walk, allowing Shakaar and Kira return to the capital with him to talk to Winn. They inform Winn of Shakaar's decision to run for First Minister, and threaten Winn not to enter the election or they will make the entire incident public and destroy her reputation. While it's nice to see Winn get put in her place, the whole showdown is much too neat.
Meanwhile, the story brings up several questions that don't really get answered. For example, why is Shakaar so popular with so many Bajoran groups—enough to be elected their next leader? Why does Winn so extremely overreact to this incident? Why is she willing to risk a civil war? It seems to be for no apparent reason other than to force the confrontation, leading to her being ousted from her newfound position. Unfortunately, this makes Winn even less likable, nullifying any sincere wishes of progress for her world she seemed to have in "Life Support."
Also, why is it Sisko seems completely unannoyed that his first officer goes running around Bajor? I would have liked at least a line concerning the issue in one way or another. And was O'Brien faking his shoulder injury? If not, why didn't he throw the dart with his left hand to win his 47th game?
"Shakaar" has its moments—a welcome return to the political territory, a good vehicle for Kira, and a change in music by freshman composer Paul Baillargeon—but the somewhat unsatisfying conclusion doesn't offer enough in terms of developing the political canvas.
Previous episode: Family Business
Next episode: Facets
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77 comments on this post
Tue, May 13, 2008, 8:23pm (UTC -5)
Beyond that, it was just strange to see Commissioner Rawls in a Bajoran uniform.
Wed, Aug 13, 2008, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
This issue wasn't about the farm reclamators (or whatever the techno-babble name of them was), but was about the fact that the Province said 'no' to her.
I remember a line of hers (to Sisko, I believe) where she told Opaka that she would gladly look on the faces of God (the wormhole aliens) and the Kai told her to go to her room and meditate... 'And rightly so,' Winn states.
Unfortunately, the lesson appears to not have been learnt by her. Her self-pride continued to taint everything she tried to do until it finally leads to her death.
Tue, Jul 7, 2009, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Jul 7, 2009, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Jul 15, 2009, 10:41am (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 15, 2009, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Feb 17, 2010, 10:59am (UTC -5)
I though it was weird that Sisko informed Kira over the first minister's dead. She's supposed the be the liaison officer after all, and surely she ought to be contacted by her own government and she would have to be the one to the relay the message to the DS9's CO.
Wed, Dec 29, 2010, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
No, actually, they aren't. They are clearly risking civil war because the current govt is reneging on deals with its own people to satisfy a desire to open commerce with other worlds.
On the face of it, the idea that Bajor could start being a land of commerce is fine, but as Shakaar and the other people showed, that is a few steps away from where the people are. Winn is trying to run before she can walk, she isn't interested in what is best for Bajor, she is concerned with what is best for her place in history.
Lest we forget, this is the same woman whose first episode had her part of a plot to kill Vedek Bariel, her next couple of episodes aligned her with "The Circle", a terrorist group, so she would almost be guaranteed the position of Kai, and then just before this episode, she clearly wanted Bariel to continue the negotiations at the cost of his own life so if they failed, she had a scapegoat, while if they succeeded, she could reap the benefits and kudos.
The only episode she even closely seems to be in the right about is regarding Bariels activities during the Occupation as the evidence does seem to suggest he was a collaborator.
Sun, Jan 16, 2011, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Feb 17, 2011, 10:18am (UTC -5)
Thu, Apr 14, 2011, 10:08pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Oct 29, 2011, 6:35am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 10:28pm (UTC -5)
Winn was wrong too, on a different level. As someone else said, you shouldn't be trying to export fancy foods when your own people are hungry. That's what happens when the elites get caught up in the game of trade and diplomacy between nations/planets and forget that the ordinary people need things like food and jobs too.
Sat, Nov 3, 2012, 12:47am (UTC -5)
I am not saying she is completely right, or that Shakaar is NOT sympathetic, but at the end of the day, as someone above pointed out, those ARE government-loaned generators. Winn is correct, at some point you have to face down the anti-government problems on your planet, or you will never get into the federation. How many times on TNG did Picard say some planet or another couldn't get in because one faction disagreed with another faction. I completely sympathize with Winn in this EP.
Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 11:06am (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 21, 2013, 8:36pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 9:04am (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 24, 2013, 11:14am (UTC -5)
Besides that, Kai Winn is an awfully loveable villain!
And Kira becomes more and more attractive character-wise as time goes on.
Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
While they never showed that this happened I still like to believe that they made off with a substantial profit :)
Mon, Mar 31, 2014, 8:44pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 12:37am (UTC -5)
It's a fairly common fault (e.g "Shadowplay"), but it's distracting when Bajor is such a big part of the show. It makes it hard to take the whole premise seriously.
1) Kira describes Recantha province as "the farming community"
2) Shakaar and friends seem like small-time farmers (did you see any machinery?) -- yet they tie up Bajor's entire inventory of land reclamators.
3) Shakaar is going to walk from one province to another.
Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 5, 2014, 9:11am (UTC -5)
Finally level heads win the day, but I can't fathom this fight would have ever taken place. They should have stormed Winn's place and dealt with her incompetence.
Mon, Nov 3, 2014, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 9, 2015, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Apr 12, 2015, 7:37am (UTC -5)
Wed, Jun 24, 2015, 1:52am (UTC -5)
This whole episode makes Winn look pretty bad. How is it that she thinks compromising with Shakaar would've made her look bad? The ability to compromise when called for is a sign of a good leader. the way she handles the situation, even if it had worked out in her favor, would've just made her out as a tyrant.
Tue, Sep 29, 2015, 6:05pm (UTC -5)
Kira is still sad Bareil is dead, and prays to a candle for him. Bajor's First Minister dies. Bajor being the near-theocracy it is, Kai Winn, not a minister, is named the new First Minister of the planet, just like Italy will appoint the Pope as the new Prime Minister in the event of unexpected death in our world (?). There are presumably other Ministers in Bajor's Parliament or whatever, though we do not see any others. She is running unopposed in the next election, so none of those other ministers have any interest in running for the job, nor do any other of the, let's assume billions of people on Bajor. Maybe it's only tens of hundreds of millions.
Winn asks Kira to go get two (2) reclamators back from Shakaar in Dakur province so that she can use those reclamators to get the exports going in another province. I am not sure what these reclamators do exactly, but Winn makes clear at this point that she believes that the government has a full claim to them, and that Shakaar is essentially committing theft by refusing to send them back. She asks Kira to please talk to Shakaar because he will listen to her, and despite her reluctance and her personal feelings about Winn -- she blames Winn for Bareil's death -- she agrees to go talk to Shakaar.
There, Shakaar says that they need the reclamators more and the government had originally loaned them the reclamators for several months. Kira insists that he and Winn can work out a compromise if they only talk together. Shakaar reluctantly agrees. So she goes back to Winn, who expresses dismay that Shakaar is continuing to hold onto the reclamators, which she considers government property. Winn snarkily says that she guesses she has no choice but to agree to Kira's meeting, but seems to be seething over it, and sends Kira back to DS9. I can't help but quote the exchange in full:
WINN: A pity. Shakaar sounds like a prideful and arrogant man. It also seems there's no reasoning with him.
KIRA: Shakaar is not an unreasonable man. He's desperate. They all are. You should see what they're up against. The condition of the soil, the harsh weather. I'm sure if you talk to him, you'll be able to work out a compromise.
WINN: It would seem that I have little choice.
KIRA: So I can tell him that you'll discuss it with him?
WINN: You can tell him that. And then you can return to Deep Space Nine.
KIRA: But I can still serve as an intermediary between you and Shakaar.
WINN: That won't be necessary. You've already done enough. And please give my best regards to Commander Sisko. That will be all, my child.
Then, while Kira is with Shakaar, some militia are sent to arrest Shakaar for stealing reclamators, at which point Shakaar and Kira punch out the militia.
Shakaar tells Kira that tis is not her fight, that she can run away. And I quote:
KIRA: I am home, Shakaar, and I have been lied to by Kai Winn for the last time. She wants a fight, I'll give her one.
Oh, good. They run and then get their secret cache of weapons (!), and we learn that the civil police are looking everywhere for Shakaar and Kira, fugitives, have gotten other former Shakaar cell members, and also:
LUPAZA: The authorities have seized your farm and they've brought in a scanning machine to hunt for the reclamators.
SHAKAAR: Let them scan. There's nothing there to find.
As far as I can tell, we never find out where the reclamators actually are. The plan is for them to continue to run as armed fugitives resisting arrest until the civil police give up. When Kira points out the civil police might not give up so easily, Shakaar says:
SHAKAAR: Maybe. But I really don't think they want to hunt down a group of fellow Bajorans who are just trying to defend their homes.
Homes, AND GOVERNMENT EQUIPMENT. And I hate to say it, but if they are running in the mountains, they are not exactly "defending their homes," which have already been seized. And I know that these people are used to short-term strategizing, but really, assuming that Shakaar is right and the police stop looking for them after ten days...then what? If they go back to their farms, they will be arrested. If they change their names and move to a different province, or leave the planet, then they stop defending their land, which is the primary goal of all this.
Further, let's review: Kira's STATED beef, for which she beats up militia members and starts running, here is that *WINN LIED TO HER*. The episode has reminded us how much Kira hates and distrusts Winn. The episode also sets up Kira's attachment to her home and to Shakaar, so her secondary reason is loyalty (to home and to Shakaar). But the episode (perhaps unintentionally) twists around itself. Kira's anger with Winn is that Kira put Winn in a position where Winn felt she "had to" do it ("It seems I have little choice"), and Winn then sent Kira home and went to arrest the man whom Winn has already identified as a criminal -- Winn behaved in keeping with her stated reasons, *except* that she misled Kira to get her to leave after Winn was clearly disappointed. So upon this discovery, Kira moves straight to "armed fugitive." Now let's turn this around: Winn asked Kira to talk to Shakaar, and Kira came back with a meeting set up where they can "compromise," which was hardly what Winn had asked her to do. So Winn was pissed off that Kira did not do what Kira agreed to do, and then sent Kira away and exerted her considerable authority to get things done herself, at which point Kira then broke the law and punched some dudes out. From each of their perspective, the other is a betrayer and they get angrier and angrier. Kira escalates toward anarchy, Winn toward totalitarianism, but both are reacting at least in part to anger that the other person failed to behave in the way they wanted.
Now, Winn's initial beef with Kira is less significant than Kira's WINN HAS LIED TO ME FOR THE LAST TIME bit. Kira did not promise she would get Shakaar to agree anything. However, I can see why Winn would see Kira coming back with a plan already in motion for them to meet for compromise as a betrayal of Winn's request. And I can certainly see why Kira sticking around on the planet to knock unconscious the men Winn sends to arrest Shakaar so she can get her reclamators back would be more of one.
So things are escalating. How bad will they get?
Meanwhile on Deep Space Nine, O'Brien was good at darts and then he stops being good at darts and Quark is sad.
Back on Bajor, while we were away, dozens of people have joined Shakaar's cause in "defiance" of, uh, something, and Winn has declared martial law. Pretty boring stuff, good thing we got all that O'Brien is good at darts stuff going on. But seriously, the two-weeks escalation in which "defiance" increased and Winn imposed martial law sounds like it may have contianed some events that would be worth knowing to understand the situation better. Sisko has not seen Kira in two weeks. Winn asks Sisko down so she can talk to him, at which point he coyly says that he's surprised Winn would be interested in his advice, or speaking to him. Ha ha, I wonder why Winn would be interested in talking to Sisko, when his first officer has gone rogue? In case we weren't sure who we were supposed to root for in this episode, we get this exchange:
WINN: And they've yet to catch sight of Shakaar or any of his followers, let alone take them into custody.
SISKO: I guess now you know how the Cardassians must have felt.
What is the Bajor-Cardassia equivalent of Godwin's Law? I know that it has not happened yet, but I can't help but quote Winn from "Rapture":
WINN: But it is what you think. Those of you who were in the Resistance, you're all the same. You think you're the only ones who fought the Cardassians, that you saved Bajor singlehandedly. Perhaps you forget, Major, the Cardassians arrested any Bajoran they found teaching the word of the Prophets. I was in a Cardassian prison camp for five years and I can remember each and every beating I suffered. And while you had your weapons to protect you, all I had was my faith and my courage. Walk with the Prophets, child. I know I will.
Look, call Winn an attempted murderer, a liar, an opportunist, a zealot, an extremist, a tyrant. Those are all pretty accurate. But to compare Winn's difficulty finding Shakaar to the Cardassians', and thus to imply that Winn's desire to find one group of people who have defied the law in her eyes to a systematic project to strip Bajor of its resources, killing millions of people, is seriously fucked up. And Winn, incredibly, just lets it go, without pointing out what a horrible thing this was to say.
Of course, this is one of the Big Themes of the episode, but more on that in a second. What I will say is that whether it's appropriate or not for Shakaar and Kira to make the comparisons of running from Winn as being akin to running from the Cardassians, at least they are people who lived under the Cardassians' rule and so have some reference frame to make comparisons.
Sisko refuses to get involved because of the Prime Directive. Normally I'd say fine, but it is not as if he takes it that seriously in eps like "Through the Looking Glass." But okay.
Sisko says that he thinks Winn is badly mishandling the situation, at which point Winn makes a speech about anarchy which puts her in a low-angle frame with huge Bajor symbols/icons hanging from the ceiling, and then she starts spouting off about her as the Prophets' Will, to emphasize how crazy she is.
Back in the hills, Kira and Shakaar and their really big band of people running from the militia. It's looking tough -- they may have to get out of Dahkur finally but it might be risky. Furel and Lapuza, old Shakaar resistance cell members, say that they should do what they did with the Cardassians pursuing them: turn around and fight them. Shakaar thinks about it for two seconds and agrees that they might as well go start blowing some heads off. They come up with a plan to trap them in what seems to be a large canyon, and then get ready to start shooting the heads off some of the senior military officials. At the last minute, Kira and Shakaar realize they can't shoot them. I want to emphasize how bizarre this is in execution, though. Yes, they talk about the people they are about to shoot, and how they know them, but before they fail to pull the trigger there is no actual discussion of the fact that they are about to FIRE ON OTHER BAJORANS; they just get right down to it, without any qualms. These are arresting officers coming after them because Shakaar defied arrest, and the cost-benefit analysis of whether or not to start shooting people trying to arrest you is something that criminals and revolutionaries may have to make, yes, but they do not even *talk* about it. The scene seems structured to imply that it is essentially reasonable and a natural consequence that Kira and Shakaar start shooting the militia, and their loyalty to Bajorans helps them resolve the situation which, by Winn's actions, had gotten very bad. But it is in no way obvious that shooting the militia persuing them is a reasonable course of action.
The head of the militia sent after them is played by the actor who played Rawls on the TV show The Wire, which is an excellent and careful look at politics and crime in a realistic, believable way. So let's just call him Rawls. And in what I would not describe as realistic and believable, Shakaar says that he wants to leave, and off screen they have what I would imagine is the following conversation:
RAWLS: There is no way I am going to let you walk out of here. We are armed. You almost tried to shoot us after ambushing us, and you JUST admitted that this would lead to civil war. This all started because you didn't want to give back some farm equipment. I have to take you in.
SHAKAAR: I'm thinking of running for office.
RAWLS: Oh, cool! You've got my vote! Let's go tell the Kai we've got this problem sorted out!
Meanwhile on Deep Space 9 Bashir is good at darts now. Quark's getting ideas. HERE WE GO AGAIN :D
They go tell Winn how everyone will vote for Shakaar, especially if Winn continues to run and they reveal how Winn almost started a civil war over a couple reclamators. Apparently this whole incident will be made public if Winn continues to run! Which, wait, wasn't the whole planet raising their voices in support of Shakaar? What part of this incident was *not* public? Then Kira goes back to the station, where carefully neutral Sisko who implied Winn was like a Cardassian says nothing about Kira's weeks-long absence. Kira goes to her quarters blows out her Bareil candle which has been burning all this time, happy to realize now that her grief for Bareil was actually just a desire to stick it to Winn, which has now been sated. And credits.
Look, Winn is in the wrong here. Sending in militia to arrest Shakaar was an overreaction to a situation that could have been resolved more peacefully; it is good to be able to compromise. And obviously she mismanaged things once they started to get out of hand -- declaring martial law and suspending local government is a bad idea. She lost the people's confidence. And she did lie to Kira. More to the point, it does seem as if Shakaar had a point that the government should not renege on its deals, and Winn's attempt to move the reclamators straight to exports seems to indicate that her priorities are about Bajoran image rather than the health of Bajoran individuals. Winn's failure to make efforts to deescalate suggest that she was indeed willing to risk civil war over a few reclamators, or, more accurately, over her wounded pride.
But seriously. Winn was clear that she considered Shakaar a criminal. Kira sympathized with Winn's belief of where the reclamators should go. And the reclamators, as far as I could tell, were government property. In cases where the government loans out equipment, especially pro bono, the government usually then has the "right" to reclaim it. Whether it turned out that the deal with Shakaar et al. was more binding in the first place or not is something that could, and should, have been fought out metaphorically and with words in civil court, if not at the negotiating table...but even if Shakaar were arrested, Bajor being a non-torture regime, it would presumably have been not that hard to get him out and to argue for mediation. Not to mention the fact that Winn's popularity would drop.
Now certainly there are times -- a LOT of times -- in which unfair arrests absolutely must be opposed; tyranny cannot be let to stand forever, etc. But the continued assertion that Winn almost started a war over "farm equipment" basically confirms that there *are* no larger systemic forces at work. Winn wanted the government's farm equipment back, and Shakaar and Kira played chicken with Bajor's political stability with her over that equipment. Shakaar kept equipment that was the government's because he felt he had a reasonable claim, and he *had* to know where this would go -- that it would eventually pit him and the government against each other. And he is not exactly Rosa Parks here; Shakaar is keeping property for himself that was already on loan, and then resists arrest by punching and then arming himself. Are we seriously to believe that another leader who wasn't Winn would *not* send police after them, or wouldn't continue trying to apprehend him, even if they would likely not impose martial law? If civilian police pursued Shakaar, would he have nearly shot them? Shakaar kept government property when he was told to give it back, and so he had to expect that at some point he would be arrested if he continued keeping them (especially if they were in SECRET HIDING PLACES as the dialogue at one point suggested), so he either was not thinking clearly or believed it was worth going to jail for them or -- if indeed he thought through futher -- that it was worth, ACTIVE resistance against the government to keep them. And maybe it was -- maybe the Dahkur province members really would starve to death without those damn reclamators. But Kira was frankly on the fence about where the reclamators should go before Winn pissed her off an extra amount, and so I am kind of doubtful that lives really were on the line (livelihoods being another story), and if so, well, Kira has a job liaising with the Federation, who could probably help with their food problem, except oh yeah they are too busy playing darts.
But anyway, that two week gap really hurts the episode. Did they *try* sending scouts out to carry messages to the pursuing officers with offers to negotiate to de-escalate the situation? Did Shakaar, the least selfless man Kira knows or whatever she said, offer to turn himself in in order to allow the rest of them to get off their resisting arrest / aiding and abetting charges or whatever? Remember the Kira from Defiant, who told Tom Riker that he is not a terrorist and to recognize that he has to do what he can to prevent a bad situation from getting worse? Where was that Kira in this episode?
After two weeks (or more) of running around, with talk about civil war brewing, Kira and Shakaar decide not to kill off the officers who are performing their legal and military obligations to arrest fugitives who were charged with a crime, and at that point they rather improbably come up with the idea that Shakaar being First Minister is their solution to their problems. I don't really know what to say. If Rawls had *no obligation* whatsoever to carry out his orders, to the point where Winn has no power whatsoever to reprimand him for explicitly defying her, why was he chasing Shakaar and Kira in the first place? Did he just lack the confidence to stand up to Winn? In what way does the fact that Shakaar is going to run in an election change whether or not he is a criminal? And finally, the episode ends with Kira and Shakaar not compromising at all; indeed, as everyone criticizes Winn's rigidity and unwillingness to compromise, Kira and Shakaar manage to avoid shooting some people basically by having Shakaar become Bajor's political leader, so now he can order as many pieces of farm equipment to stay in Dahkur province as he likes.
If I am going to believe that Shakaar would make a better First Minister than Winn, I would have to have more evidence that he put some real effort into long-term planning, seeing beyond his own IMMEDIATE needs, and worked hard to de-escalate a situation. And he did none of those things, at least not until he agreed to talk at the last minute with Rawls after marginally avoiding shooting him in the head. Maybe I would still prefer him as a leader to Winn, because Winn is terrible, but it's frankly pretty close. He still seems like a terrible candidate, who would probably get himself into all kinds of wars if he were the leader, refusing to budge himself if he believed he was RIGHT. "I don't give a damn how other people see us!" is not the kind of foreign policy sense you expect in a leader. And, I keep going in circles, but seriously Winn was running *unopposed* until Shakaar came in, and Shakaar's time of sticking it to Winn is sufficient to make him the popular choice?
I really don't know what to make of this episode as a Kira show. Kira eventually decides that they should talk their way out of the situation, but what she gets with Rawls et al. is hardly a compromise or evidence that, as in "Defiant," Kira is thinking more diplomatically and anticipating large-scale consequences and recognizing which battles to choose. She and Shakaar just realize that they can win because everyone agrees Winn is entirely at fault. That Kira blows out the Bareil candle at the end is really gross -- it seems like either it is implying that now that she has Shakaar back in her life she doesn't need Bareil, or that her unresolved feelings about Bareil really *were* just being pissed off at Winn. Generously, maybe Kira believes that she was helping right some injustices committed against Bareil by knocking Winn out of office, which, um, okay, maybe, but seriously that does not sound exactly like the kind of thing Bareil would have taken as a necessary step to allow him to pass into the Prophets' loving arms or whatever. The general episode seems to be Kira reconnecting with her resistance roots and using resistance tactics against a new enemy, and on some level it makes sense that Winn is cast as the danger who may represent some of the same risks as the Cardassians (in terms of totalitarianism etc.) -- and there is I guess the suggestion of progress in that she finds a solution without violence at the end. But really, for all the reasons I have laid out I find that solution wholly unconvincing and hardly any indication that Kira has grown from her resistance days. I think this episode really sets Kira's character back several seasons.
As a piece about Bajor, it makes Bajor seem like the entire planet is a solitary backwater community; no one of a *whole planet* opposes Winn in an election, and then a couple of reclamators are enough apparently to start a "civil war." Meanwhile, Shakaar's rebellion apparently gets support from the whole planet, but still there are like twenty people in charge of looking after them and about twenty people running. It's like the episode wants to be Braveheart, where Shakaar is William Wallace who just wants to protect his home! but somehow becomes the symbol of a whole revolution against an autocratic leader, but it also wants all this to happen in two weeks in a couple of hills with no people getting hurt after those two militia guys got hit. That Shakaar could reasonably go from only caring about his own province and his friends to being a plausible First Minister without us actually seeing the point where Shakaar decides that he *wants* that job or why he thinks he would be good at it reflects the similar lack of grasp of scale in the whole thing. Maybe Bajor really has like five thousand people on it; that would certainly go some way to explaining what happened.
I don't mind fluffy subplots for the most part but this episode is one case where the subplot *really* hurts the episode, because the darts story, one of the most banal in Trek history, fills up time in a rushed piece attempting to depict Bajor nearly going into civil war, where we get no indication of what anyone save Sisko thinks of Kira's going rogue, and very little indication of Sisko's take.
Its overall execution is off-kilter, with particularly blunt script and direction and bizarre plotting and characterization. There are some good moments early in the Dahkur province scenes, which bring a bit to the story. Ultimately my initial reaction after watching the episode was that this was terrible, but I do not entirely trust this reaction. It may be that Winn's handling of the situation really was so terrible that Kira and Shakaar's responses were reasonable. However, you know, I doubt it. As far as I can tell, Winn was awful but Kira and Shakaar were essentially just as myopic and aggressive, but the ending suggests that the whole of Bajor will rush to support Shakaar and thus that Kira and Shakaar were absolutely right. It makes for an episode with bad characterization, bad directing, bad politics, and a series of bizarre choices. I really feel like this episode deserves 1 star, though perhaps it is closer to 1.5.
Tue, Sep 29, 2015, 6:08pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Sep 29, 2015, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
I actually can't tell whether the security officers who were there to arrest Shakaar were supposed to be militia or not, and maybe it makes some difference if Shakaar is being arrested by militia or civilian police...but IMMEDIATELY after this scene we hear that civilian police are searching for them. Obviously Winn declaring martial law, as I said, is crazy, and should not have happened. But still, again, just because Winn is crazy does not mean that Kira and Shakaar have to continue whatever they are doing, culminating in planning on shooting militia rather than agreeing to turn themselves in given that they have been breaking the law by resisting arrest and punching out officers in the first place. Aspects of this episode made me think that it's like if Thelma & Louise at the last minute decided to have Thelma run for president and that would solve their problem. I maybe am not even correctly arguing what is wrong with this episode because everything in it makes no sense to me. Sorry if this is really incoherent.
Thu, Oct 1, 2015, 11:29pm (UTC -5)
I have some replies for some of the problems you saw in this episode but first I want to address your Rapture point. Rapture didn't exist when this episode came out. It wouldn't exist for 2 more years. If Rapture says that Winn was in a prison camp that's fine, but when this episode came out our best information was that the church did pretty ok during the occupation. The Kai did her Kai thing (regular references were made to her being an inspiration to her people during the occupation). Hell, Bariel was on a RETREAT during the massacre (remember, that's why he couldn't have been the one to sell out Opaca's kid) which means they were still able to take vacations and then he got called back from his retreat to preach to the priest who took the fall, presumably not is secret because he had to retroactively delete official records saying he was doing that to frame himself. So at this point in the series any claim that the Vedick Winn suffered in a camp for preaching her beliefs is nonsense and I believe the writers of this episode were operating under that assumption. Rapture sounds retcony to me but I'll find out when I see it. At this point in the series though there is little indication that Winn has that sympathy trump card up her sleeve.
So with that out of the way, let's look at the political landscape of Bajor. Winn, who is NOT, as you said, a minister gets mysteriously appointed to the position of First Minister with no opposition. Which is suspicious, especially for Winn who is a known (to us) liar, political opportunist by any means necessary and criminal who has already supported one civil war to get what she wants. On the other hand let's look at Shakaar and co. These are people who have spent the last 20+ years fighting an oppressive tyranny who unfairly ousted their government. So the idea that an atypically appointed leader breaking preexisting agreements in a way that shows a lack of concern for their wellbeing, an unwillingness to compromise and a willingness to overtly lie to her people about what she is doing and why. The fact that Shakaar and Kira fell back into the life they led for most of his... well.. life isn't that surprising. Nor is the fact that the people are still primed to support a plucky underdog. Kira may have had the "you're the man now kid" realization when she had to kick the old man off the moon, but the rest of the planet wasn't there. The Bajorans were ready to start a civil war over the Federation being... around? just 2 years earlier and in that time they have lost both their political and spiritual leader and had both replaced on a very short timeline with Kai Winn. Tensions are likely high. They led those Bajorans into the canyon because those are the tactics they used for decades. That's what they automatically revert to and yeah, it took them a second to go "wait a second. these aren't the cardassians. These are jsut bajoran's doing their job." And it's not like they haven't killed Bajorans before either. Kira killed at least one Bajoran sympathizer.
As for whether the police were militia or not? Doesn't matter. Kai Winn said "I will negotiate with Shakaar" and then tried to arrest him instead. She has shown herself to be duplicitous and underhanded. And the Bajorans DO still torture people. The circle did it to Kira. I mean, maybe not publicly but who the hell is going to trust Kai Winn to follow the publicly written rules after the underhanded stunt she was literally in the middle of pulling to pull off the underhanded stunt she was trying to get Kira to help her pull. And that's what they're going to "tell everyone" Kai Winn didn't tell the people "I agreed to negotiate with Shakaar about holding onto the equipment he has a contract saying he's allowed to hold on to and then arrested him instead" she was all "He stole farm equipment and then attacked the police"
As for Sisko's bit. I don't think he really cared if it was fair. As far as he's concerned she blew up a school on his space station and attempted murder. Their entire relationship up to this point is based on her making political overtures in his direction and him showing the most barely covered contempt for her that he needs to in order to fulfill his starfleet duty and now she's asking him to help her capture and arrest someone under his command he cares deeply about that he knows she has actively antagonised several times. He doesn't give a shit about the prime directive. He's just telling her to go fuck herself in more diplomatic terms.
Again, my opinion on this is probably slightly biased because I just hate Winn so fucking much and want her to die and I admit this episode could do with some better exposition and B Plotting but all in all I feel that as someone who hasn't seen how any of this ends, I really needed a win here against Winn.
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 6:35am (UTC -5)
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 8:00am (UTC -5)
I guess my take is: armed revolt against an oppressive government can be justified, if the government is sufficiently oppressive. However, Winn's power is such that it more or less takes one person running against her for her reign to end. Now, that Shakaar has military support is significant, but Shakaar still seems like a terrible choice to me.
I guess the idea is that people either believed Winn to be pious or were *afraid* to run against her, because of rumours about her actions against her opponents in the Kai race. So okay: in that case, it might make sense that they need someone brave enough to step up, and only when they have full military support (and, implied, protection) can they go up against her.
I'm not wild about Winn's lying about negotiating with Shakaar, which Winn no doubt did not consider a lie ("you can tell him that"), but the state and its representatives claiming they will negotiate with criminals and then arresting them anyway is really common, and the criminals then (eventually) killing the apprehending officers generally are not considered justified. If Winn hadn't lied, then...well, she might have said "I won't negotiate with him, he is a thief," and then...well, presumably the same thing would have happened, except without Kira (an important distinction). Winn made it clear to Kira that she believed Shakaar's actions to be criminal, holding Bajor's future hostage, and that type of thing. From Winn's perspective, Kira agreeing to talk to Shakaar and coming back with a "let's negotiate!" solution was also a betrayal. Maybe representatives of the state *ever* lying about negotiating with people they consider to be criminals is not justified, in which case the bar for becoming armed fugitives and eventually (nearly) shooting arresting officers would be a lot lower.
In any case, Winn's perspective is: government property being held illegally by Shakaar -> attempt to reason with him by asking Kira to talk to him -> Kira comes back with an offer to "negotiate" over the return of government property -> tell Kira to leave with a polite "fuck you" ("you've done enough already child") -> arrest the guy to get the government reclamators back -> the guy and Kira resist arrest, get armed, and run in the hills -> the local police can't find them, nor the government property reclamators that Shakaar is not even using for his farm anymore -> other communities start "defiance" (undefined in the episode) -> (two weeks) -> martial law. OK, so, it's hard to believe that last step could be justified. But starting with the initial premise that Shakaar is a criminal who is holding government property hostage, it all (before the two week time jump) pretty much makes sense from even an average politician from my perspective, which means that it should not have been completely impossible for First Officer Of Deep Space Nine Kira to anticipate, nor should it have been difficult for her to recognize that the situation would continue escalating (which she did) -- and that she or Shakaar is going to have to de-escalate the situation if they don't want it to get worse. And they do, *eventually*, but they were on the verge of pulling the trigger before they got to that point. Since the episode started with a "grey area" premise (can the government recall its equipment before the loan period is over?), where it is mostly a grey area whether Shakaar's continued keeping the property is wrong (i.e. illegal), the escalation is the fault of both sides, both of whom are behaving "reasonably" from their own perspective, and I have my doubts that Shakaar's last minute decision not to shoot his pursuers and to talk to them is sufficient to see that he is a far superior potential leader based on the events of this episode. Better -- well, maybe. But so much so that the military all throws their support behind him? Huh?
However -- if we take into account the whole of what Winn has done up to this point, things do shift a bit. I maybe sound unfair. I do take it as read that Winn is a villain, but still felt that this episode failed to justify (to me) Kira and Shakaar's actions, because I hold Kira and Shakaar, as characters who go largely uncriticized by this episode, to a higher standard.
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 9:40am (UTC -5)
(I would also like to mention at this point, because I seem to end up arguing with you about this stuff a lot, that I do love your reviews. I am on this site at this point as much for what you have to say as what Jammer does and you do make your points very well and enjoyably and I enjoy these back and forths immensely)
Which is why the Rapture point is important. Because besides the narrative/sociology view the other main difference between the two of us is that I'm watching this show for the first time. I have no benefit of retrospect about where this is all going. I know only what the people who watched this show as it came out knew. So from where I'm standing the scenario is basically that Kai Winn's big failing in this episode is that she doesn't understand the political climate she is trying to control. She's been off in her church this whole time where structure and order have always been a common and positive force even during the occupation and is trying to impose that same order on a people who have been conditioned through ~3 generations of fighting against oppression to react as badly as possible to an attempt by a new power to impose those things. There's a heavy implication to me that Winn is losing this one because for once she doesn't understand the rules of the game she is attempting to carefully manipulate because she was in the church the whole time. If they retcon that later, that's the fault of the later episode.
Are Shakaar and Kira's choices right given the values and climates our society hold them to? Probably not. Are they understandable given the climate on Bajor? Absolutely. Does the people throwing their weight behind a plucky known freedom fighter even though they don't have the most legitimate beef make sense on Bajor? Given that anyone over the age of 3 spent most of their life viewing themselves as an oppressed underdog: Absolutely. Especially given Shakaar's repuations. Does the army backing Shakaar make sense? This one's iffyer but I'd say yes. Shakaar is not a nobody. It's pretty established that the heads of various cells are well known. They semiregualary mention "oh yeah, so and so was in this cell and now he's a minister. I met so and so who was in that cell etc" so Kira's cell which has been described as "infamous" or "famous" by Cardassians and Bajorans respectively probably has some weight behind it and he LED that cell. We know Bajor has a bit of a hero worship problem, as we saw with Li Nalas, and holds its ex-freedom fighters up as saviors. This episode is basically the Pope deciding to pick a fight with William Wallace 3 years after William Wallace was instrumental in freeing Scottland and expecting people to just kinda go with it. I know you already discounted the William Wallace analogy but remember, he doesn't need to become William Wallace in two weeks with no killing. He already was William Wallace with a hefty body count before this episode even started. This episode was just him playing 80s action hero and coming out of retirement for one last job.
I feel this episode is ultimately about two people in new situations (Kai Winn in legitimate political power and Shakaar in a post occupation Bajor) trying to keep doing things the way they always have and having to come to terms with the fact that they can't. Shakaar ultimately wins because he backs down first. He was perfectly willing to be arrested by Rawls if the only alternative was a shootout and when Rawls saw that was when he decided to back Shakaar.
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 9:42am (UTC -5)
oh absolutely. she's an amazing actor in that role with amazing material to work with. Kudos to her.
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
And I guess I should modify this to say that the rebellion itself makes "sense," insofar as I believe that Shakaar would do this and would get people on his side. What you write about Winn's failure to read the political climate also strikes me as correct; and it does help a fair bit to recognize that despite Shakaar's styling himself a guy who wants to farm, he is also a major public figure, which the episode does remind us of (Rawls mentions his freeing of Gallitep). The episode is pretty clear throughout that the Shakaar cell are using the same tactics they used in the Occupation to hide away.
That the Bajoran political situation is this kind of powder keg I do find believable, and that Winn has no respect for the situation she's walking into even more so. And if I thought the episode were taking a more...neutral stance on the Winn-Shakaar conflict, particularly as it escalates over weeks, most of my problems with the episode would be resolved. However, the episode does paint Kira and Shakaar as justified (or, at the very least, as the level-headed ones reacting to Winn's madness), and therein is the problem. Even if I actually felt that the episode *did* show Shakaar actually "folding" first, things might be different, but Shakaar certainly did *not* consent to be arrested, but merely, uh, consented to run for public office. Now, I can see how this Hail Mary could actually play out in a way that would make me see Shakaar showing leadership qualities: basically, if they did a Li Nalas type story with him, where Shakaar really, *REALLY* did not want to be placed in any position of power, but essentially had no choice but to take on a quasi-martyr role he did not want, I might be more comfortable saying that Shakaar comes out the better man. And it may be that is the underlying idea; I certainly can imagine a Shakaar who has no interest in politics reluctantly agreeing to put himself in a position of authority and responsibility because he is the only person people can trust to outmaneuver Winn. However, I found no indication of that in the episode.
I am a bit hypocritical, in that I do tend to follow gut-instinct feelings about what deeper motivations exist in the characters when I happen to like an episode, and I try to admit and own up to that rather than counter it, if nothing else because I like liking the things I like. So I can see one's mileage varying on this point.
Anyway, the difference between a first-time viewing and a full-series perspective is another good point. The thing is, I did not particularly think this episode was an instance in which the two would be so far apart, but I guess I forgot that later episodes really did succeed in at least partially softening Winn, which did change my perspective. And that is pretty interesting.
Fri, Oct 9, 2015, 1:30pm (UTC -5)
I think one of this episodes big failings is that it assumes we know a lot (as it was at this point in the series) and therefore feels it can leave a lot unsaid and just assume we'll fill in the blanks with stuff that honestly shouldn't be left to that. Like, the show never really says or even properly implies that Winn used underhanded dealings to get the First Minister position and be in a situation where nobody is running against her, but since every time we've seen her thus far she's been using underhanded tactics to get power we're supposed to assume that this was no different and just treat her ascension to first minister as the result of illegal maneuvering and duplicity and her lack of competition is from the same kind of stuff she pulled to get Bareil out of the runnig for Kai. We never see her actively lie to the people of Bajor but again based on who she is I think we're supposed to just infer that she didn't tell them the whole story which is something Shakkar can leverage and most importantly, we never actually see or learn the specifics of the contract Shakaar has with the government, we never know if it says "You have use of this equipment for X time" or if it says "you have provisional use of this equipment for X time unless we ask for it back" but since Kira believes Shakaar is justified we're supposed to assume it's in his favour since we're on her side rather than Winn's and Winn is OBVIOUSLY acting inappropriately, because that's what she does. We also never see Shakaar act reluctant about being first minister but since he was, up to this point, a farmer with no interest in politics and we have a definite Li Nalaas parallel I think we're supposed to assume he's doing it for the good of Bajor even though all he really wants to do is farm some space-rutabaga or whatever.
These are all really important plot/character points that the show just kinda assumes we'll infer from past behaviour and how the character's we're supposed to like act. Which is a major failing of the episode and how those blanks get instinctively filled or not filled by our respective brains probably plays a huge part in how we initially react to the episode.
I actually just went back and read the script and I was misremembering the scene in the valley. I thought shakaar initially gave up. Having reread it I take it more as him accepting that this situation is out of control. Even if he gets arrested and the Kai "Win"s, even if his entire cell gets taken down, it won't stop the civil war from coming. The fuse is too close to lit. Once one side fires at the other it's over. The government will have their justification and/or the resistance will have their martyr. The only way to end this is to find a way to have both sides "Win" which is by making Shakaar, the face of the resistance, and Winn, the face of those opposing them, publicly making good together and getting on equal footing. The solution then is to make Shakaar the First Minister and official head of Bajor and leave Winn the Kai and spiritual head of Bajor so that the people can feel like this has been resolved to everyone's satisfaction.
I get the feeling this episode was planned as a two parter and then when it didn't get it had to try to cut details everywhere it could and hope we would fill in the blanks. So yeah, as much as it's visceraly enjoyable for me to watch I'm gonna have to agree that this was a pretty poorly written episode which requires almost fanfic levels of headcannon from implied scenes to work.
Sat, Oct 10, 2015, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
Bad choice for starters, maybe, 'cause the pieces don't fit easily. Shuffling scraps of paper representing each scene, I can sorta reconstruct three new episodes, each with a teaser and 5 acts. Unfortunately, they don't have the same pacing. I mean, the source material supplies six "act out" beats apiece, and the reconstructed episodes need them, too. However, as the stories all run basically in parallel, they all want to climax at the same time.
Worse, for these three, they can't run exactly parallel. Notably, the B-plot of "Family Business" (meeting Kasidy Yates) directly follows the A-plot of "Explorers" (when Kasidy is first mentioned). So that A-plot has to be the climax of part 2 of this triptych so the B-plot can fill part 3. Unfortunately, by this point in "Shakaar," Sisko goes to Bajor to meet Winn -- serious business interrupting his romantic comedy plot, even assuming his travels are logistically plausible within the timeframe.
Furthermore, the B-plots of "Explorers" and "Shakaar" involve Quark's bar, which is closed during "Family Business." That limits options for shuffling the bar scenes. Of course, I'd rather ignore the B-plot of "Shakaar" altogether; notice Jammer's review has only two brief sentences about the forgettable "O'Brien is unbeatable at darts" story. I'd rather replace it with the Nog plot from "Facets" (which didn't have time for a B-plot, anyway), but that doesn't make the reshuffling any easier.
I dunno. Maybe I shoulda started with "Equilibrium," "Second Skin," "The Abandoned" instead.
Sat, Dec 5, 2015, 8:38am (UTC -5)
In the out of place B-story, some darts is played. 2.5 stars.
Thu, Dec 24, 2015, 10:04am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 16, 2016, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 22, 2016, 12:58am (UTC -5)
All joking aside, I don't know quite what to think about "Shakaar". It's got a lot that I like and lot that I don't like. As a rehash of Season One's "Progress" it's a better offering - mostly because the main character we're supposed to root for isn't an unlikable ass. But, it still struggles with the same basic problem as "Progress", and "Star Trek: Insurrection" for that matter - the main character doesn't quite work. Shakaar isn't unlikable like Mullibok or the Ba'ku Elves, but he is remarkably bland. He's as bland as day-old dishwater. I have a really hard time believing that this calm, centered, rather unemotional man had the forceful personality required to keep a rag-time band of resistance fighters together. And I doubt that he's going to have much luck in politics with that dull, droning voice of his. Duncan Regehr put more emotion into his role as Crusher's ghost lover in "Sub Rosa". Just like with "Progress" and "Insurrection", my not so inner libertarian really wants to like the story. After all, it's about a lone group of individualists struggling against a corrupt government with the stated goal of enforcing "the common good" (a lot can be justified by "the common good", that's why it's so scary). But, I have to be able to either relate to or connect with the character doing the struggling in some fashion. If Shakaar had been more lively I would gladly rate this episode higher.
As for Winn being appointed as the interim First Minister - it's certainly odd that the planet's spiritual leader would be selected for that office but I don't think it goes against what has been established about the Bajoran political landscape. Bajor doesn't seem to have a strict separation of church and state. It's not an out-and-out theocracy but the "church" does appear to play at least some part in the civil government. After all, Winn was present in the Chamber of Ministers when Kira and Dax present evidence of Cardassian involvement back in the Bajoran Trilogy. My guess is that the political situation is something like this.... There are two governing bodies - the Chamber of Ministers and the Vedek Assembly. Both are popularly elected in some fashion. Both are lead by one individual (the First Minister and the Kai, respectively) who are also popularly elected. The Chamber of Ministers runs the day-to-day temporal affairs of Bajor while the Vedek Assembly runs the "church" and serves as something of an advisory council to the Chamber (maybe something like the United Kingdom's House of Lords - but I might not know what I'm talking about since I'm not British). Winn, as the Kai, would therefore already have some say in the civil government. We have seen that she has the authority to negotiate treaties on behalf of the Bajoran people. So, making her the head-of-state as well as the head-of-church doesn't seem too far out of the realm of possibility. It's certainly not a situation I would want. Even as a Christian myself I firmly believe in the rock-solid separation of church and state. But, it does make a certain amount of sense.
The episode also has some really good stuff. Lupaza and Furel are enjoyable characters. The story Furel tells about why he doesn't want to get his missing arm replaced is very well done. It does offer a return to Bajoran politics, which are already taking a back seat to other plot arcs, and that's always welcome. I actually agree with an application of the Prime Directive (no small feat). And the B-plot is harmless enough and provides a few chuckles.
Sat, Nov 12, 2016, 7:43am (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 13, 2016, 1:52pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 27, 2017, 7:47pm (UTC -5)
"And was O'Brien faking his shoulder injury? If not, why didn't he throw the dart with his left hand to win his 47th game?"
...... clearly Jammer has never played Darts
Wed, Apr 19, 2017, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
A game of darts must end on a double or the bullseye - a player has to hit one very specific (and very small) segment of the board - the exact double required depends on the player's score. The size of a double segment is approximately 50mm x 8mm (approximation is because naturally the segment is curved, the bullseye is even smaller) and the player throws from just under 2.5m away. Not even Phil Taylor, the 16-times world champion, could hit a specific double on demand with his non-dominant hand. I wouldn't even hit the board. Miles would have had more chance of accidentally flinging his tungsten shaft into Bashir's eye than winning the game once his shoulder had gone (on which note, nobody ever tore their rotator cuff being handed a cup of coffee, but that's another matter entirely).
Of course, it could be that they were playing space darts, in which case all bets regarding the rules are off...
Sun, May 7, 2017, 11:19am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Shakaar was a pretty boring episode and political DS9 could produce interesting episodes. This however is not one. Meh
Wed, Jan 17, 2018, 4:08am (UTC -5)
Thu, May 24, 2018, 6:52pm (UTC -5)
So Kai Winn nearly starts a civil war over some farm equipment...way to go. She's not well versed in diplomacy, politics, or governing and just sees things too uni-dimensionally (get the farm equipment to another region to get exports going, join the Federation etc. instead of even listening to Shakaar, who was initially told the equipment would be his for more time). So her actions are ridiculous to say the least (even asking Sisko for Federation security). The creation of conflict here is forced and the point about Winn's character/competence didn't need to be so heavy-handed. More subtlety would be better, although Winn believed it was a test by the prophets so maybe that drives her to be very direct about dealing with the situation?
I liked the scene where Kira/Shakaar realize they can't fire on their own people and then they come down from the mountains. When one idiot shoots his weapon and then Kira etc. screams to stop shooting -- this was a key moment that could have gone very wrong. Although there was some filler material with the Bajorans getting together again for some drinks, I didn't mind it as it is good to get more color about the occupation.
I was surprised at how much time Kira was able to spend on Bajor -- wouldn't Sisko do something about her running around as if in a resistance group again? And it seemed pretty quick how Shakaar could get all the support to challenge Winn in the election -- hard to get an idea of how much time passes during this episode (2 days, a week?).
Not even worth discussing O'Brien and the darts betting, throwing out his shoulder etc. Barely even qualifies as a B-plot and was just a distraction to the A-plot. So I'd say overall this episode could have been structured better.
2.5 stars for "Shakaar" -- somewhat flawed but moves the Bajoran arc along. Kai Winn's character is being butchered for somebody who is a recurring character. Louise Fletcher is a capable actress but is being written one-dimensionally. The episode basically leaves it with Bajoran politics being a mess but there seems to be hope and Winn's position is weakened.
Sun, Aug 19, 2018, 1:10am (UTC -5)
Sat, Sep 22, 2018, 8:41pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
The Chief's dart game has improved, demonstrated by kicking Sisko's ass in Quark's. Well it is HIS board after all. I have to admit that ever since “Explorers,” Avery Brooks has found a more natural style to his performance and Sisko feels more, well, human than ever. Now, if the writers can just get him to make better command decisions, they have about four seasons with which to redeem the character. He's called to Ops to chat with some government official.
Meanwhile, Kira is praying in her quarters. She is saying a prayer for Driftwood. You know, it's interesting with all the talk about Bajoran religious beliefs, Trek hasn't addressed the Bajoran afterlife (unless I'm forgetting something) since “The Next Phase.” Does Kira believe that Driftwood is now a borhyas, as Ro thought she and Geordi were? Presumably, she believes he still exists in some form if she wants the Prophets to look after him. I promise this isn't going to be another rant, but this is an example of what I was talking about in the “Destiny” review—when the Bajoran religion wants to be about predicting the future and subverting the (alleged) rationalism of our Federtaion protagonists, we are reminded that the wormhole aliens exist outside of time, blah blah blah. But when the mechanics of their existence is incidental to the plot, you could hardly tell Bajoran faith apart from contemporary Christianity or Judaism.
What are you praying for Kira?
Oh, in what capacity?
Well, he's dead, so I'm praying for him.
Is he lost? Does he need help to get somewhere?
The writers don't actually care. Their only point is Kira is religious, and so here is some shorthand religious behaviour to remind you of that. Anyway, Sisko enters to inform her that the Bajoran First Minister has died of a heart attack. And...I'm sorry, did someone say theocracy? The new First Minister is Kai Bitchwhore herself. What, seriously? … alrighty, let's strap in.
Act 1 : **.5, 17%
Odo is giving Kira his security report, but she's a bit distracted. Kira is bothered by Bitchwhore's appointment and the fact that nobody—yes, NOBODY on Bajor is slotted to oppose her in the next month's elections. Ah, but is she bothered because theocracies are fucking evil, dangerous and blatantly undemocratic? Lol, of course not! She's only upset because it was Bitchwhore who convinced Driftwood to undergo all that crazy surgery in “Life Support.” Well, this is an irony. The one quality Bitchwhore possesses that actually makes her a potentially good political leader, prioritising peace treaties, even at personal expense, is the one thing Kira holds against her election. Odo even frames it this way, saying that the DS9 crew have a different view from the rest of Bajor because of their personal interaction with the Kai. We do get one good line out of the exchange:
ODO: It has been my observation that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice is that sometimes they make the wrong choice.
Well, Kira is going back to her prayers, only to be interrupted once again, by Eminence First Minister God Empress Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Whatever herself Bitchwhore. She has come to see Kira specifically, and Kira has nothing but venom to spit in her face over the discussion of Driftwood's 3-month old passing. Bajor is finally able to start detoxifying the soil the Cardassians poisoned, allowing the planet to start farming en masse again. Mhm...
1. Are we going to talk about the Skreeans? That whole fucking mess was only a year ago—you remember, when Bajor decided to turn away millions of GQ refugee farmers whose religious conviction compelled them to stay and help heal Bajor of its wounds?
2. Are we going to talk about the Bajoran colonies? How, apparently, Bajor still can't feed itself, and yet has enough expendable resources to set up colonies in the GQ?
3. Are we going to talk about “Progress”? About how Bajor decided to dispense with an entire moon's worth of viable farmland in order to generate electricity?
4. Or are we going to talk about that device sitting directly between Kira and Bitchwhore in this scene? You know, the replicator? It has been three years since the Federation started administrating DS9 and providing aid to Bajor. Are you seriously telling me that we can't provide replicator technology? That, despite peace treaties and colonies and communications links and fucking around with all this crap, the Bajoran people are still STARVING? And that amid this crisis, the political situation is so sedate that turning the space-pope into the prime minister is met with a shrug? Give me a break.
Bitchwhore believes that making Bajor a bread basket exporter of grain or whatever will make it a more suitable applicant for Federation membership. Um, excuse me? What? Since when has such an economic profile EVER been important to the Federation? From “Angel One” through “Attached,” the only issues that have mattered for potential membership have been sociological and strategic. I'm pretty sure making a conservative religious leader the head of state is more of a problem for your application than whether your planet produces enough space-barely.
Whatever, a group of Bajorans is refusing to turn over the soil reclamators to the government and their leader is a man Kira knows well, from her home province named Shakaar [when the walls fell]. He also led Kira's resistance cell during the Occupation. The Kai wants Kira to convince him to turn over the equipment, but Kira is incredulous. It's interesting that Bitchwhore pleads with Kira to make this happen—even using reasonable arguments:
WINN: We're on the verge of a new era. The Occupation is over, we've achieved peace with Cardassia, Federation membership is only a few years away. This is an exciting time to be a Bajoran. But our future depends on each of us acting for the common good of all Bajor. Shakaar has lost sight of this. By stealing the reclamators, he's acting in his own self-interest at the expense of the rest of our people...Perhaps he is just misguided. That's why I've come to you, Kira. You know him, you can talk to him. I don't want this to become a scandal. I want this settled peacefully, quietly. Surely we can both agree that that's a worthy goal.
It's interesting because, in addition to the religious authority which Kira has always shown deference to, Bitchwhore can literally order Kira to do this now, as head of state. But she chooses to ask her, instead. The episode is certainly going out of its way to show that Bitchwhore, having consolidated power, is at least trying to behave respectably, with the sense that she appreciates the gravity of her position.
Act 2 : *.5, 17%
So, Kira is back on Bajor, to the desolate soil of her home. She pokes around a shithole of a shack until she's surprised by...oh god, no it's the SCOTTISH GHOST! Actually, it's Shakaar [when the walls fell]. The two embrace and they reminisce a bit about the good ol' days. He already knows why she has come and says he needs some time to consider Bitchwhore's request. In the meantime, the old resistance cell is going to get together for some home cooking. Good knows with what food, but they're going to cook something.
On DS9, Quark has got it in his head, seeing how Miles has improved his game, to start taking bets on darts, because of course he has. If O'Brien wins again tomorrow, it will mark is 47th [duh] straight victory. Well, that's just great.
We cut back to Dakur Province where the former terrorists are enjoying their very 1990s “we used to be great” dinner. The quartet is rounded out by...um, Nick Fury and Leukocyte? Is that their names? Well Nick Fury is missing an arm instead of an eye. He's refused to have the Federation replace his limb—lost to Cardassian interrogators. He risked his life to save Kira and the others, so losing an arm seemed like a bargain; it would be “ungrateful” to the Prophets to have it replaced, you see. Mhm. Yes indeed. Your gods are so generous, they allowed two generations of Bajoran children to starve under the oppression of space Nazis. I'm sure they appreciate your offering of never being able to applaud during the Gratitude Festival. I bet that right now, the Prophets are discussing it:
PROPHET 1 : Guys, do you remember when we helped that Nick Fury guy rescue those three people?
PROPHET 2 : Who?
PROPHET 3 : What do you mean “remember”? Time has no meaning here. We are above the—
PROPHET 1 : He lost his ARM to the Cardassians! He was willing to sacrifice his life, but we said, “no no, just the arm will do.”
PROPHET 2 : We should have just taken all their arms—it would have made it easier for those corporeals to have those circle jerks when they—
PROPHET 1 : It's called PRAYING, dude. Not, circle jerks, PRAY-ER. Speaking of which, did you hear Kira Nerys? She's been asking us to look after Vedek Bareil for three months now.
PROPHET 3 : What's a month?
PROPHET 2 : What's a three?
PROPHET 1 : I'm just saying, are we going to let him walk with us, or what?
PROPHET 2 : Well, did she offer us one of her arms?
PROPHET 1 : Um...I don't think so.
PROPHET 2 : Well than, fuck that guy. No sacrifice, no shoes, no service! Bareil can burn in hell.
PROPHET 1 : What is “hell”?
PROPHET 3 : Who?
Anyway, Shakaar informs them of Kira's mission here, and the other two have already assumed their answer is “no.” They need the reclamators, so the rest of Bajor can fuck itself. Later that night, Kira broaches the topic with Shakaar, echoing Bitchwhore's dubious view that making Bajor Great Again through grain export will make their planet a major player again, no longer pathetic refugees but growers of crops! Um...seriously, though, in the age of replicators, crops are only useful as a niche industry, for people like Sisko who likes to cook his own food, as a novelty. Every major power in the quadrant has replicators. But even overlooking that, can the Federation seriously not spare TWO additional reclamators so the Bajorans don't have to make some of their people destitute in order to restart a major industry? Not only that, Bajor controls the only stable wormhole ever known to exist. The entire premise of the series is centred around this fact. Bajor is essentially space-Israel. Israel is a wealthy nation because its economy is subsidised by other governments in order to maintain a Western military presence in the region. Isn't Bajor doing the exact same thing?This is so damned contrived. Kira convinces Shakaar to sit down and meet with Bitchwhore to try and work out a compromise, and they seal the deal with some suggestive hugging. Hmm...
Act 3 : *.5, 17%
Kira reports to Bitchwhore, who undoes her good will by getting petulant again, angry that Kira hasn't already gotten her reclamators for her. Bitchwhore's response to the meeting Kira has arranged is absolutely ridiculous, showing none of the subtlety or growth from earlier in the episode. She dismisses Kira, sending her back to DS9. Uh-huh.
Channelling Mulibok, Shakaar likens his “hopeless” fight against the Kai to their resistance against the Cardassians. Well, that seems like an overstatement. I mean the Kai may be an idiot but she...oh what's that? Bitchwhore has sent Bajoran militiamen to arrest Shakaar. Super. Well, he punches one of them out and Kira, acting on instinct, helps him take the other down. Shakaar offers to let Kira return to DS9—this isn't really her fight, he says. But, hey, she's pissed off at Bitchwhore, so obviously, the only solution is to become a renegade and outlaw. Of course.
Act 4 : **, 17%
So, the authorities have seized the farmland and issued province-wide alerts for Shakaar and Kira. The pair have holed up in the old cave set, where the resistance's arms have been stored away for some reason. They are joined by Nick Fury and Leukocyte, who report that some others from their old cell have already been arrested. Shakaar's whole plan is to replicate their tactics during the Occupation. As William B pointed out in great detail (and whose sentiments I agree with), the reasoning under which they're operating is specious. Yes, Bitchwhore has overstepped and is behaving petulantly, but the “defending our homes” trope is not really applicable here. As WB wrote, “If they go back to their farms, they will be arrested. If they change their names and move to a different province, or leave the planet, then they stop defending their land, which is the primary goal of all this.” So, the writers have written themselves into the same pit of logical fallacies as they did with the Maquis, relying entirely on a superficial affect of romantic heroism to try and create sympathy for these assholes.
Meanwhile on DS9, the Federation is responding to this diplomatic crisis by...watching O'Brien continue his winning streak. Quark inadvertently aggravates the Chief's persistent shoulder injury with a mug of beer, leading Bashir to recommend emergency surgery. A Romulan in a blue shirt (he's supposed to be Vulcan, but Vulcans don't behave like fucking twits, so this guy *has* to be a Romulan agent), calls that 15-1 bet and it looks like Quark is screwed. Great.
Well, now that Bitchwhore has royally screwed up a minor internal matter, she has called in Sisko for his advice. It seems that her idiotic response has led to political upheaval elsewhere on Bajor...which has led to her declaring marital law. Brava, bitch. Anyway, how *would* Sisko handle this situation? Given what we've seen so far, he would probably punch Shakaar in his face. If this were Season 5, he would probably tell the Kai to blanket the mountains in Agent Orange. But this time—this time Sisko can't get involved thanks to the PD. I should be fair here—Sisko is finally being characterised well, being diplomatic, but firm, adhering to Federation principle and law, while still sharing his honest opinion with Bitchwhore, calling out her arrogant and foolish handling of the situation. I'm impressed. Less impressive is Louis Fletcher, who is being called upon to act like a crazed tyrant: I WILL STOP AT NOSSING! NOSSING! Sikso's face is pretty priceless during all this.
In the mountains, the reformed resistance cell has reached an impasse. They will either need to flee to a different province through rugged terrain or start fighting back against Bitchwhore's militia. Well, Shakaar decides on the latter.
Act 5 : ***, 17%
They lead the militiamen into a trap. Kira and Shakaar recognise several former resistance fighters amongst the militia, whom they're targeting with their phasers at this very moment. When the moment arrives, neither of them can pull their triggers. What the hell happened to STUN settings? Whatever. The pair scurry their way down the mountain, unarmed to confront the militia's leader. There's an obvious mutual respect between the two parties—they reference several Occupation-era events, including Gallitep from “Duet.” There's a moment when someone shoots their weapon and a little cheesy “NO ONE SHOOT” scurrying about takes place...we're walking...
KIRA: The next time someone starts shooting, we won't be able to stop it. And I'm not talking about today. I'm talking about tomorrow and the next day and the next. I am talking about the beginning of a civil war.
SHAKAAR: I didn't fight the Cardassians for twenty five years just so I could start shooting other Bajorans.
That's a great sentiment, guys—is there a particular reason it took two weeks of running around the mountains for you to figure this out? Could we maybe have seen this transformation in your thinking take place? Oh wait, I forgot we had to watch O'Brien play darts.
Well anyway, the leader, Lenaris, along with Kira and Shakaar arrive at the Empress' office to inform her that Shakaar is going to enter the election against her...oh and he'll win. So, Kira gets to throw the incident in Bitchwhore's face, which is pretty satisfying.
In the epilogue, Sisko takes Kira to task for abandoning her post, engaging in illegal activity and escalating tensions with...oh, no we have O'Brien giving up on darts for now and Kira saying another prayer. Sigh...god damn it.
Episode as Functionary : *.5, 10%
I agree that this is a difficult episode to review. I also think William B did a very thorough job here, and I don't want to be redundant. The general thesis of the episode, about Bajor continuing to put its past behind and move into a more cosmopolitan future, is handled alright. Trying to weave together themes of PTSD from the Occupation with the new peace treaty with the ostensible trajectory of Bajor joining the Federation with the death of Driftwood AND the introduction of yet ANOTHER major character...well it's all very ambitious. Maybe too ambitious. Even without the completely pointless B-story (if you can call it a story), that's really too much ground to cover in a single episode. What ends up getting completely lost in the story is character.
Bitchwhore in particular is all over the map; she starts out surprisingly reasonable—a sig nof much-needed growth—only to end up so cartoonishly evil that the scene where she gives her little NAZI speech is actually funny. Remember, only about 2 years ago, SHE helped incite a coup against the sitting government with Cardassian aid! The irony is thick. Shakaar is still a blank slate, just kind of an extension of Kira's own ties to her past life, but now he's going to be the First Minister? When did this terrorist-turned farmer decide he had any such political ambitions? Well, it must have been around the same time that Kira decided she was going to go right back to being a terrorist—or maybe it was when she decided to go right back to her job on DS9. The only one who ends up making it out of the story a little better off is Sisko, who (perhaps because of the way in which the story was so rushed) actually behaves like a Starfleet officer—the very ending being an unfortunate exception.
Essentially, despite the incredibly high stakes for the show, very little about this story feels real. Indeed, all the running around in the hills feels more like the old Dakur gang getting together to play capture the flag, instead of the pre-cursor to a civil war. The episode just kind of glosses over all the motivations and political logic in order to get the story where it needs to go. I sort of like where we end up, with Bitchwhore having a new rival who seems like a genuine counteragent instead of the pathetic tapeworm Driftwood became. But, like ItHotP, and the Circle Trilogy before it, the characterisation of the Bajorans as a people is not remotely flattering. The people are apparently all lemmings to whatever the story needs them to be; no one dissents against Bitchwhore's appointment, until so many people fall behind Li Nalas Mark 2 here that now *he* will be the next FM? In just a couple of weeks no less! THIS was a story that deserved a three parter à la the aforementioned Circle Trilogy. An important by very ineffective story.
Final Score : **
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
In this instance I finally do agree with you that the Bajoran religious/political situation seems to be rather glossed over, especially considering the time they took for the B story. That being said, I think a lot of the things that seem to make no sense to you would be clarified if you were to change one assumption in an early scene: imagine that when Winn is asking Kira to help that in this instance she's being completely duplicitous rather than respectably and reasonably. She's using Kira specifically because of her ties to those people, to drive a wedge into what must already be something of a publicly known cause. Shakaar didn't just decide to run for First Minister out of the clear blue sky. As long as we assume that Winn was taking the reclamators away from them in order to strike a blow of them personally, rather than because she truly had the good of Bajor in mind, then suddenly most of the story makes sense. Once it's clear that she's playing politics from the start all the rest makes sense: she knew they would refuse, and wanted Kira there as witness to their 'criminal' refusal so that a credible source would be available to justify sending the police.
I also think that the throwback romanticism we're shown about the Shakaar cell on the run once again is supposed to show us in a funny way how the Bajorans already see him: as someone willing to put his life on the line for ordinary Bajoran values, not just for fancy accolades or power. I think great pains are taken to show that he's exactly not what we'd think of a political leader as being, and therefore is the right guy for the job. He's sort of down and dirty; will run in the mountains rather than getting a lawyer. And in a strange way their escape almost gives the rest of the Bajorans the message that the occupation may not be quite over yet, if Winn controls both high offices.
That being said I think the show, both here and in earlier episodes, lost opportunities to show us what the provisional government was actually like, or what was going on in regard to Winn being the Kai. We more or less get no word about what it's like for the Bajorans in general, but at best get feedback from Kira and Sisko about it occasionally. I suspect the show-runners were having trouble figuring out how much Bajor stuff they could get away with, because there was always the danger of the audience being turned off by too much planet stuff and not enough sci-fi and adventures. I remember people saying to me, as it originally aired, that the show sometimes lacked that TNG "what's out there" feel, and nore Bajoran politics may have dragged it down further for them, even though it was sort of necessary for the purposes of story integrity and world-building. Ah well.
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 1:09pm (UTC -5)
"[I]magine that when Winn is asking Kira to help that in this instance she's being completely duplicitous rather than respectably and reasonably. She's using Kira specifically because of her ties to those people, to drive a wedge into what must already be something of a publicly known cause."
If I grant this much, then the characterisation is completely thrown off for a different reason; how can she be so skilled at manipulating Kira, at carefully pulling at political and personal threads in the beginning, only to be totally obtuse and stupid in the middle of the story? It's equally inconsistent either way, and our final impression of her is not nuanced at all.
Regarding Shakaar himself, I'm very open to forestalling his characterisation until a later episode (this one's too crowded as it is). I don't hold that against this one; but they did need to show a scene in which his *decision* to run against Bitchwhore is explained. The whole resolution comes out of no where.
Honestly, this feels like a mid-series "Enterprise" episode to me; good characters and meaningful ideas are swept aside for shiny plot developments.
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 1:10pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
I regret more than ever falling behind a couple years ago. It would have been fun to be reviewing these together.
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 1:17pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 1:42pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 23, 2018, 10:41pm (UTC -5)
Everything you wrote there is accurate. Would you agree that this is just one of the weirdest DS9 episodes? The writers had clearly lost interest in Bajor by this point, so why even bother telling a story like this? It doesn't help that it's completely flat. I agree with your two stars-it's completely neutral. In fact, this might take the prize for the most middle-of-the-road episode of the whole series. For an episode about important things in the DS9 universe, it's shockingly forgettable.
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 9:00am (UTC -5)
I'm not sure that I'd agree that the writers lost interest in Bajor, more that they had written themselves into a corner with all of the conflicting messages and ideas. Bajor is their hub for positivist *religion*--which I think I've made clear I think totally fails to work, but it's also their Holocaust/Israel analogue which, if you're going to tackle such a subject, you had better be willing to dig in. But rather than adequately dealing with all of this, in later seasons they make Bajor the centrepiece to this crazy Dungeons and Dragons plot, further convoluting the subject. Honestly, I admire the ambition they took with all of this, but the storytelling suffered as a result.
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 9:30am (UTC -5)
I don't think that Bajor was designed with a specific allegory in mind. Even though "Duet" work very well as a Holocaust allegory, it also works considering the Rwandan, Armenian, or Bosnian genocides. I think they dug into that side of Bajor well in episodes like "Duet" and "Necessary Evil" which show the scars still left on Bajor. But the other stuff, like the consequences of accepting help from a colonial-like power such as the Federation or the religious stuff just didn't work/was not explored well.
Thu, Dec 20, 2018, 9:18pm (UTC -5)
--Well, hard to know where this is going. Kira off to get farm equipment back from Shakaar. Not exactly thrilling on the face of it.
--Why do they have to keep ALL the reclamators? And the Kai has no resources to just go take the reclamators?
--They're definitely not into separation of church and state in Bajor.
--Lots of talk about risk. 15 to 1 odds on O'Brien. The risk Shakaar represents to Bajor, the risk of turning around and fighting the troops, risking civil war over farm equipment, and more.
--That's some slim reasoning there , that so quickly and thoroughly defeats the Kai. People will be upset and never trust her again, when they find out the Kai "risked civil war over farm equipment?" But . . . didn't Shakaar do the exact same thing? Couldn't the Kai just tweet about Lyin' Shakaar and deflect and project?? Get with the program, Winn!!
--Shakaar would have made a much better love interest for Kira than Bareil.
--Not a fan of the Bajor stuff. Bajorans just don't really grab me. Not that well defined or interesting, at least not yet. It was not a bad ep, decent but not great.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 11:41am (UTC -5)
But they manoeuvred their way out of it. It reveals Kira as now not only a leader who could be first minister herself, like Shakaar, but as the ultimate kind of leader, one who inspires others to lead, like her idol Kai Opaka seemed to. The man she’s inspired to try to lead being her own former leader shows how much she’s growing in her position on DS9
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 5:31pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 7:34pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Jan 20, 2019, 12:27am (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 20, 2019, 11:38am (UTC -5)
But even putting that aside, there's one element to this episode that always bugs me, and that's it's messed up sense of scope that always lingers in the back of my mind while watching.
Why are there so few reclamators in the first place? They made it seem like the government loans these things out to small territories each year to help restore the soil. But the situation makes it seem like they only have enough to give to one territory at a time (thus why Wynn needs these specific ones back from Shakarr and why Shakarr waited 3 years to get them in the first place). Keep in mind this is an entire planet they are trying to restore, not just a few small provinces or a single country. At the rate some of the Farmers will likely be sitting around for decades before they get access to these things. I don't know if these things are provided by the Federation or not, but whoever is providing them needs to seriously consider making/getting more. THIS IS AN ENTIRE PLANET WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.
Wed, Jul 22, 2020, 3:06am (UTC -5)
2. It seemed strange that a resistance fighter would ignore a project for the greater good. Surely a compromise could be reached with the government.
3. Winn is an unlikable character and she’s just what most politicians are like anyway.
4. I think Kira extinguishing the fire is just a signifier that this is closure for her. A sign that she has avenged Bareil and prevented civil war in memory of him.
Mon, Jul 27, 2020, 2:07pm (UTC -5)
As for the Bajoran situation, putting the plot holes aside (e.g. relying on export in post-scarcity Trekverse, as others have mentioned), what is the point of setting up a Difficult Dilemma™ if you're not gonna play fair with your characterisations? I can buy that Winn would act evil/stupid, but she could at least make an effort to defend herself beyond sinister speeches. Similarly, why would it be beneficial for her to side with Shakaar in the aftermath of everything? Doesn't she have ample ammunition to criticize *him* for the near-civil war and his irresponsible brinkmanship? Not saying that she'd be correct in doing so (although...), just that that kind of populist tactic seems way more in line with her M.O.
Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
And so "Shakaar" anticipates the problems of all subsequent Bajoran episodes. Gone are the careful, Bajoran two-parters of season 1 and 2, replaced instead by stand-alones which are separated by dozens of episodes, and which are forced to share screen-time with bizarrely inconsequential B-plots.
I mean, the B-plot in "Shakaar" literally involves Miles playing darts. That's all. He plays darts. A civil war and counter-religious insurrection begins on Bajor (Viva Zapata!), and Miles is playing darts. 20 minutes of Miles playing darts.
Still, there's good stuff in this episode. There are some great Bajoran sets (Kai Winn's temple office), some great Bajoran matte paintings, some nice rural farms, and one cool looking Bajoran homestead.
A late-episode action sequence is pretty good, and devolves into a nice conversation, both sides agreeing to lay down their arms. There's also a great speech by an ex resistance fighter, where he discusses why he's fond of his missing arm.
Then there's Sisko. Sisko is always cool when sparring with Kai Winn, moving like a stalking predator, calm and polite but always aware of just how sinister she is, and how utterly powerful he is in comparison. And yet, though Sisko brings with him the collective might of the Federation, bound by protocol he's always forced to walk on tip-toes around this petty world-leader. These contradictions always lend Sisko/Winn interactions an interesting charge; the little woman intimidating an Empire who smiles politely down at her.
But despite its admirable attempts at sketching complex politics, DS9 often resorts to half-assed world-building. This episode, for example, suggests that Bajor is trying to be an "exporting powerhouse", its farms aiming to ship wheat to other planets. This is just nonsense; Bajor can barely grow crops, has problems managing its soil and coping with fluctuating weather patterns, many of its inhabitants are still in rural poverty, and yet it also has warp technology and is seeking to build an export economy whereby grains are shipped to other systems? This makes no sense. If you can build a warp drive, you've evolved beyond struggling to plant crops. And why would any planet, which has the resources to purchase wheat from another planet, not be capable of growing its own wheat? And why would aliens even have digestive systems compatible with Bajoran crops? And why, in the far future, are food systems and intergalactic commerce so primitive?
The fact, as this episode elaborates, that Bajor requires soil reclamators to "save its economy in several provinces", and so "risks a civil war with farmers", is also nonsense. This episode should open with Kira or the Kai requesting farming equipment from the Federation. THAT is your plot. THAT is what the Federation does. The central conflict should thus be the Federation leveraging their technology - they can beam down reclamators by the hundreds - in such a way as to influence the local elections. Maybe Sisko withholds the reclamators hoping to foment a backlash against KAi Winn. Maybe he holds public negotiations with Shakaar, and grants Shakaar the reclamators, thereby causing the elections to swing away from Winn and toward Shakaar. Maybe he, in a show of Federation benevolence, grants the reclamators with no strings attached. Maybe these principles lead to good outcomes, maybe bad.
Regardless, that is where the core of the plot should be: no Miles and his dartboard, but Sisko and his promise of reclamators.
Sat, Mar 20, 2021, 8:09pm (UTC -5)
Nice comments. Agree wholeheartedly. As soon as the reclamators were mentioned I thought 'wheel in the Federation's special replicator unit' . Miles should have been ordered by Sisko to postpone his dart game mid-throw (to Quark's chagrin) and enter the holosuite to discuss replication strategies with Leah Brahms.
Mon, Dec 6, 2021, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
She's evil but she tends not to make moves for no reason at all, so I imagine that her stated reasons for having wanted the reclamators back in the first place were true -- but then that once Shakaar refused, she became a tyrant and it became a personal plan to stamp out anyone who challenged her authority."
Kai Winn did tend to have the stench of Andrew Jackson about her, in this episode more than most.
Sat, Apr 9, 2022, 8:52pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Apr 9, 2022, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
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