Star Trek: Deep Space Nine


4 stars

Air date: 12/30/1996
Teleplay by Hans Beimler
Story by L.J. Strom
Directed by Jonathan West

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

"Before Captain Sisko found B'hala, my path was clear. I knew who my enemies were. But now nothing is certain." — Kai Winn

Nutshell: One of the series' most deftly written shows. Absolutely stellar work concerning complex issues.

"Rapture" is the embodiment of DS9's most respectable and intriguing qualities. Here is an excellent story—easily among the series' very best—with brilliantly realized layers of subtlety and complexity that will reward faithful followers of Deep Space Nine most of all with some of its finest writing. The best way I can sum things up is to say that there is so much resonating substance in this episode that it's almost amazing.

Like last season's "Accession" (a terrific show in its own right but not as great as this one), the writers of DS9 decide to return to the series' true roots—and prove that they still have the ability and desire to do intelligent, probing Bajor stories that believe in mystical spirituality and the unusual and inexplicable.

Beginning as Sisko and Kira admire an ancient iconic Bajoran painting depicting the long-lost ancient city of B'hala, the story quickly sets its tone—one shrouded in mythical larger-than-life aspects from the far past. It's interesting the way Sisko is instantly taken with amazement of B'hala. By the end of the teaser, the captain has scanned the painting into the holosuite computer, in an attempt to use the latest technology to decode a mystery Bajoran archaeologists haven't been able to do for 20,000 years... to find the forever-buried B'hala.

While in the holosuite Sisko is knocked unconscious by a powerful electric shock, and when he comes to he begins to see things in a new light. In one sense this is explainable: Bashir explains that Sisko's neurological system has been overloaded and will be more aware to sensory perception for a few days. Shapes will appear to be more focused and better defined for a while. "Enjoy the show," the doctor tells him with a slight grin (one of many subtle details that the episode gets just right).

But there's much more here. Before long, Sisko begins having powerful visions that encompass time and space, the past and the future. For brief moments he has divine understandings of the universe, and it isn't long before he begins to see the foreshadowings of Bajor's fate.

And it can't be a coincidence that it's about this time that word comes from Starfleet Command that Bajor has been accepted into the Federation—not a lightweight statement considering that this has been the ultimate goal of the series since its first episode. I must admit that it came as quite a surprise to me when that line came. I wasn't expecting it for quite some time—maybe not even until near the very end of the series' run. But as Admiral Whatley (Ernest Perry, Jr), who brings the news, states, Bajor's acceptance into the Federation is just the beginning—now the difficult tasks of integration begin. I couldn't agree more. I'm very glad to see that the writers understand that this goal represents only one leg of the issue, and that Bajor achieving this goal will lead to new issues to deal with.

But "Rapture" does not really choose to deal with this issue just yet. The episode is more about Sisko and his visions, and what happens when he begins having such foreboding, prophetic insight. A big part of the story's success can be attributed to the fact that it uses mysticism as an approach. It's particularly nice to see that the show doesn't pull its punches and try to explain these miracles using the typical sci-fi terms. These visions are visions, no doubt about it. They may be a side effect of Sisko's injury, perhaps, but that doesn't change the fact that they're miraculous gifts that, like existence itself, lie in a realm beyond our comprehension—maybe because we're just not intended to understand.

The spiritual implications alone are a major positive because we're invited to reflect upon them at almost every turn. But another big part of what makes "Rapture" such a brilliant story is the fact that these visions have such startling repercussions—repercussions that prove consistently thought-probing. For instance, Sisko's insight leads him straight to B'hala itself, the underground coordinates of which he locates after a mere few days of staring at a representation of a B'halan obelisk from the holosuite program. The story's execution of this search is absorbing; the episode works up a fascinating sense of wonder for its discovery of the lost city. What's most relevant and astounding here, though, is Sisko's character, who cares deeply about his find and its meaning. Noteworthy is the way this demonstrates how far Sisko's role in Bajoran mythology has come since "Emissary." Here he finally seems comfortable and devoted to taking his role in Bajoran mysticism (opposed to his attempts to distance himself from it in "Accession"), and that's a powerful realization that's worthy of respect and awe—of both Sisko's character and the DS9 writers.

Sisko's discovery of B'hala has a domino effect that leads to several other brilliantly realized character turns. Most notable is the change in Kai Winn's attitudes, which she voices to Kira in two separate, wonderful exchanges. Winn admits to having been wrong about doubting Sisko as the Emissary, for the one who found B'hala must be the one who was sent by the Prophets. This isn't so much a change in heart as it is something that challenges the direction of her beliefs. As she states near the end of the show, things are no longer simple. Her path is no longer clear, and she doesn't know who her enemies are.

This is fascinating stuff because it's such a perfectly truthful example of cause and effect. It's completely warranted, credible, and follows from the past actions of Winn's character—which is wise writing. It's true character evolution, the type of thing that really works while simultaneously being the type of thing that is particularly challenging to pull off. It's something that's bound to be overlooked in this episode, but one of the best examples of faith and direction that the series has displayed.

This new problem is something that Winn doesn't take lightly. Indeed, faith is all that she has, or has ever had. During the Occupation she had the strength and will to continue teaching her beliefs at the price of Cardassian beatings. And unlike those in the Resistance, as she pointedly explains to Kira, she didn't have weapons—all she had was her faith. Kira's response is one of the many sensible subtleties of reality that makes this episode such a winner—she's disquieted with solemn surprise, perhaps understanding Kai Winn for the first time in her life.

Winn has always appeared to be a tad underhanded, ever since "In the Hands of the Prophets." But "Rapture" implicitly explains a lot about Winn and her motives and history, and the results are stellar.

But turning back to Sisko, as he's the real focus of the story, it should be noted that Avery Brooks turns in an interesting, textured performance. After the visions begin appearing, Sisko has a sedate and peaceful aura about him, mostly in the way he speaks. It's indeed spiritual, as if he has briefly seen something—or everything—that has given him an understanding of, as he puts it, the very universe itself. One serene, engaging sequence has the captain literally walking through the promenade telling fortunes to complete strangers.

It isn't long before Sisko becomes obsessed with his new gifts, and the new problem becomes trying to balance his interests in Bajoran mysticism with his Starfleet job. Admiral Whatley is obviously not pleased with Sisko's visions interfering with his duties, but I think there's even more to this conflict than meets the eye. In some ways, I think Whatley is a symbol for Starfleet and their possible dismissal, even fear, of Bajoran faith. (Even if Ernest Perry, Jr. is a tad wooden as Whatley, what he represents is quite effective. Granted, Sisko's problem is an extreme circumstance, but I can't help but be reminded of Eddington's speech on Federation assimilation back in "For the Cause.") If the Federation does represent a sneaky, even if unintentional, assimilation of culture, then Benjamin Sisko represents the true liaison between Bajor and the Federation. Here is a man who can "be a Starfleet officer" yet values and heeds the Bajorans' beliefs at all costs. This is great stuff.

It's no doubt, then, why Sisko allows his obsession with his visions to escalate to the point of threatening his life. He sees something disturbing in the future: a horde of locusts hovering over the rebuilt B'hala on Bajor before leaving to fly to Cardassia. But what does it mean? He's not sure, but Bashir may not be able to let him find out. The electro-neural activity in Sisko's brain is all wrong, and Bashir needs to perform a crucial operation or Sisko could die. Sisko refuses. The changes in his brain would likely cause his visions to stop, and that's something he can't allow until he understands the meaning of the locusts.

This is where the family scene enters the picture. With the return of Kasidy Yates (who has completed her six-month prison term for helping the Maquis in the aforementioned "For the Cause"), Sisko would be leaving behind two loved ones if he traded his life for these visions. Is it worth it to sacrifice himself? Jake sure doesn't thinks so, nor does Kasidy. Understandably, they suddenly find themselves looking at a man they thought they knew everything about with a sense of total incomprehension. But there's a bigger question here: What if risking your life would put the understanding of the entire universe in your hand? That's a pretty tough argument. It's a credit to the writers that they came up with something so audacious yet so human.

Speaking of tough arguments, there's also an intelligent scene in ops where Worf argues on Kira's side for faith against a reluctant Dax and O'Brien. "Since when did you believe in the Prophets?" Dax asks him. "What I believe in," he answers, "is faith." "That's not much to bet his life on," Dax says. "You're wrong. It's everything," Kira responds with a distinct aura of certainty. The subtle complexity of the acting in this argument is interesting. And by commenting on the plot, the characters not participating in it are put to a very reasonable use.

Eventually, with the surprise help of Winn and a Bajoran Orb, Sisko realizes that the swarm of "locusts" will destroy Bajor if it joins the Federation now. "It's too soon!" Sisko desperately tells the Bajoran ministers. The vote to join the Federation is later defeated by the Bajoran chamber of ministers based on their faith in the Emissary. Sisko collapses unconscious and near death.

Jake, as the closest relative on the station, allows Bashir to override Sisko's ultimatum that he not operate and "take away" Sisko's visions. It's an inevitable step that Sisko loses his gifts, but putting the choice in the hands of Jake because he needs his father is a dramatic point—further proving that life-in-jeopardy plots are best when having character choices and meaning within them.

All around, "Rapture" is one of the most complex and multi-dimensioned episodes of any Star Trek that I can remember. It's riveting and adds up to a lot. I'm also interested by the allusion to the coming war with the Dominion. (Could the "locusts" perhaps have been a Dominion strike, with Bajor being the first Federation casualty? Interesting... but never mind that now.)

The closing scene—where Kasidy reminds Sisko that although he has given up something important, he has also held on to something important—is a little schmaltzy in execution, but it works fine in context nonetheless. After all, a little schmaltz can be warranted considering such a unique and wonderful outing.

"Rapture" is about as perfect an episode as I could hope for.

Previous episode: The Ascent
Next episode: The Darkness and the Light

◄ Season Index

185 comments on this review

Tue, Mar 17, 2009, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
Meh, this episode was OK, but it still suffers from classic Trekkian overplaying of everything. Sisko on the promenade telling fortunes was just cringe-worthy, as was the general treatment of his sudden I-CAN-SEE-EVERYTHING state. I liked that Kai Winn's becoming a deeper character, but this seemed like too radical a departure from the woman who sent murderers after people she didn't like. If they wanted her arc to really to go that way, they should have spent more time developing it; this was much, much too fast.
Wed, Jul 22, 2009, 9:46am (UTC -5)
I agree with the review, it's certainly one of the best, complex and intelligently written Trek episodes out there.

I was reminded of a CE3K scene as Sisko was playing with his food and saw meaning in the arrangement of his vegetables! :)
Sun, Aug 30, 2009, 5:28pm (UTC -5)
Why was Kai Winn there at the signing rather than the First Minister of Bajor (still Shakaar at this point in time I think)? That was a glaring plot hole.
Sun, Mar 7, 2010, 9:28pm (UTC -5)
I honestly don't know whether I liked this one or not. On the one hand it was very powerful, but on the other there were just to many coincidences for me to take any of it seriously. Yes, Shakaar should have been there. Yes, Sisko has his communicator on wrong. Yes, there should have been more people from the Federation CIVILIAN government. Yes, Penny Johnson's performance was a little off... but what's important is the big picture. I guess I'll have to see this one again.
Mon, May 10, 2010, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
New uniforms in this episode. They suit DS9 (ha ha) a lot better than the old ones. I think they get a mention at the beginning of the episode, but otherwise I'm always a little surprised by how underplayed the transition is. The Starfleet uniform is so ubiquitous, it just seems odd that this didn't get a little more discussion.
Sun, Nov 21, 2010, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Well the "real" reason the uniforms changed here is that it was the first episode to air after the new uniforms got their opening reveal with the theatrical release of First Contact. The episode wasn't exactly going to say "Hey, we can wear these now because Picard and Co. got to inaugurate them."
Mon, Dec 27, 2010, 3:54am (UTC -5)
Can someone PLEASE explain to me how granting credence to the ridiculous is automatically virtuous? Bashir's duty is to relieve Sisko of duty until his "visions" cease. Plain and simple. But no, this is DS9 where nonsense is treated like literary gold. As I said before, season 5 is truly the place in which the crap this series sowed from the beginning erupted to the surface and stunk up the alpha (and gamma) quadrant.

"Miraculous gift"? i'm sorry it's one thing to talk about spirituality and how the commonality of the Bajorans' religion helped them survive the Occupation, but this stupid crap is beyond acceptable in a Trek--why aren't Jesus and Mohammed hanging out in the wormhole too? Just shoot me, please.
Thu, Jan 27, 2011, 6:26pm (UTC -5)
What treating religous people with respect is a bad thing Trek's about tolerance is odd given it's attidude towards religion and people who believe in religion. Allright name the time and the place and i'll do it want do you want single bullet straight to the head? drive by? you name and i'll be happy to do the deed
Sat, Jan 29, 2011, 6:38pm (UTC -5)
First of all, I shouldn't grant you even the slightest attention by responding since, unless I misread that, you just threatened to shoot me in the head for being intolerant...

not cool.

Second, tolerance of peoples' differences in WHO they are is not the same as WHAT they think. Obviously one should always be open to new ideas and never harm someone simply for being different, but the idea is that human beings have evolved beyond their use for religion. If the Bajorans want into the Federation they had better evolve beyond it too. If not, then more power to them.
Sun, Jan 30, 2011, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
I've got to disagree with you on this episode. It found it boring, overacted, predicable and trite. And when he playing with his food, Richard Dreyfuss' mashed potatos in Close Encounters was running through my head.

How could Bashir NOT relieve him of duty until he was back in perfet health? How could the admirla not relieve him of duty due to the "hallucinations"?

Bajoran spirituality is an interesting concept, but Sisko always having 'visions' and such and no one who's NOT into the Bajoran religion even raising an eyebrow over it. I mean, I'm not Catholic, so I don't follow all his pronouncements. Why do Starfleet personnel, who don't follow the Prophets, cow-tow to the Emmissary?

Besides these, Sisko once again overacted. And did anyone NOT see it coming that his 'visions' would result in pronouncements that would keep Bajor out of the Federation?

Not a bad episode, just one that bored me. By that's just my opinion.
Sun, Jan 30, 2011, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
Oh this is what I get for not proofreading.

I should have said since I'm not Catholic, I don't follow all the Pope's pronouncements.

As well as the misspellings. Sorry.
Fri, Feb 25, 2011, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
Great episodes, captivating. reminds me of the TNG episode with Barclay turning into a superbeing, except this one had more consquence and had more development of character. It is good they only did a few of these mystical episodes, because the revelations are so powerful when they do occur (similar to Coming of Shadows in Babylon 5, Mollari's will end in fire!)

just because you dont follow the pope, does not mean he does not have policital influence and that his pronouncements cant affect the public policy that affects your life (eg. war, peace, abortion, etc, governments base their decisions on plurality and constituents. If enough constituents have a shared belief that translates to votes and can affect a course of action and policy. regardless of positive or negative, liked disliked, or if you agree with that belief.)

So yeah, I think Sisko role as Emissary is important to the people of Bajor, and Starfleet doesnt have much choice in accepting/rejecting his pronouncements.

Now, I would question, why the Federation would allow him to command DS9 since it seems like a huge conflict of interest. But then again Picard was the arbiter of succession for the Klingon Empire (I think handed down from the dying words of the previous arbiter), and starfleet allowed that role to continue! and removing their Emissary from command would not be a sign of trust between a would be member.

why would Bajor have to give up religion to join the Federation. I thought Picard had mentioned that Earth had moved beyond religion. Dont recall him saying the federation explicity requires members to not practice religion, or it being a condition for membership?
Mon, May 9, 2011, 10:45am (UTC -5)
Yeah, what Polt said. I just don't see the appeal of "Rapture", which has too many darn holes in it to ascribe this kind of 4-star accolades. Two additional comments:
1. Brooks' overacting nearly kills the episode all by itself. In at least three instances I felt like I was watching Third Season "Plato's Stepchildren" Kirk. "You're half crazy because...!"
2. Bajorans have been hunting the famed Lost City for 10000 years. Sisko finds it in three days. OK, I might, repeat MIGHT buy that. But the whole monolith image-reflection bit? Whether or not the Cardassians stole the artifact, are you telling me that a spacefaring planet's best scientists never thought of that in 10000 years of analysis???
Aaron B.
Sat, Sep 3, 2011, 3:56pm (UTC -5)
This is when Winn became interesting. On most shows, it's a given that the evil, ambitious religious leader is not a believer at all, but only mouths the cant to hold power and milk the followers. But Winn truly does believe in the prophets and the Bajoran faith. Sure, she'll be back to scheming and grasping for power in no time, but always within that context of trying to follow the prophets (until she rejects them, which a non-believer couldn't do). Her interpretation of what the prophets want, of course, but still. That makes her much deeper and less of a caricature than she appeared to be early in the show.
Wed, Oct 12, 2011, 3:27pm (UTC -5)
Wow, I can't believe what I wrote above. This episode is now one of my favorites, definitely in the top 10 of the series. I credit DS9, and this episode in particular, with making me more sympathetic and understanding to people who have strong faith (I still consider myself an agnostic borderline atheist). It's not perfect (see above comments) but it does so many great things that I find it hard to understand that a fan of the series could dislike it so much:

-It adresses one of the earliest goals of the series: getting Bajor into the Federation.
-Winn finally becomes a three-dimensional character (too bad it didn't stick)
-It hints at events that would occur throughout the rest of the season
Tue, Nov 1, 2011, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
I'm an atheist but the comments above are proof positive of the fact that being an atheist does not come with a free Ph.D. and complementary membership in Mensa.

The Federation wants Bajor. Bajor is deeply culturally religious. The Bajorans think of Captain Sisko as the emissary of their prophets.

Therefore, on the day of Bajor's acceptance into the Federation, the last thing the Federation wants to do is insult their culture. Therefore, they can't relieve Captain Sisko of duty. They can't do anything with Captain Sisko if they don't want to upset the Bajorans. QED.

This is also why Sisko gets to keep his job at the end.

Even the most generic understanding of politics should make this obvious. No need to be soapboxing about atheism.
Sun, Nov 20, 2011, 10:16pm (UTC -5)
Elliot, I think it's at best an inference and at worst personal projection to suggest that the Federation and humanity are atheist and/or utterly without religion. The only legitimate source for that I can think of are some silly throwaway comments from Picard in early TNG, which was still being overseen personally by the atheist Roddenberry and which therefore smack far more of Roddenberry's personal wishful thinking than reality. The fact that Trek never chose to explore any non-Bajoran main characters' spiritual beliefs implies more that that show a) isn't about religion and b) didn't want to open a can of worms that could end up offending a bunch of people than it does to any sort of official interpretation that you have to be a card carrying atheist to join the utopia that is the Federation. Besides, if renouncing your culture and religion and becoming another bland drone was part and parcel of joining the Federation, I have a feeling Bajor would not even consider joining. And yet they are, so clearly the Federation is not as anti-religion as you want it to be.

I cannot for the life of me understand why so many atheists are so incapable of accepting that there will always be people who choose to have faith. If the Federation is even remotely the "tolerant" place we're told it is, it has a place for religion, or else Eddington really is right in "For the Cause" - they're worse than the Borg.
Mon, Nov 21, 2011, 12:48am (UTC -5)
@Rachael :

For the record, my boyfriend is a devout Orthodox Christian, and his father is a priest. I have no problem accepting people of faith either philosophically or personally.

This show did not do a very good job of portraying religious people as particularly enlightened or redeeming. The Bajorans' religion is farcical; who needs faith when your gods destroy entire fleets before your eyes?

Regarding the nature of the Federation, Picard makes clear the nature of the Federation and religion in "Who Watches the Watchers" and episode from season 3, which is of course also the season of "BOBW," which few people will deny all but defines the TNG era Star Trek universe.

In that episode, it is made clear that being without religion is seen as an inevitable and necessary step in a culture's evolution--concurrent in fact with the discovery of warp drive. That may be a totally arbitrary and perhaps even slightly bigoted view, I'll grant, but it's established lore.

Even in our own age, which is hardly atheist, if a world leader or military leader were making command decisions based on "visions," he would be relieved of duty, regardless of what the visions might mean to him personally. The show had multiple opportunities to show how a religious belief might affect a person internally, where it really counts, in the person of Kira, but instead chose to make the series' gods corporeal wormhole aliens and Changelings. By doing so, all the power and mystery of real myth is circumvented and turned into something taudry and banal.

One further note about this episode; if the prophets really do care about Bajor enough to keep it out of the coming Dominion War AND have the power to vanish entire fleets of starships on a whim, what kind of sadistic creatures are these to allow the war to happen in the first place? Again, if the Bajoran religion had been something which actually embodied the nature of the mystical and required actual faith, this would have been a non-issue, but the show, rather, chose to shove down our throats the idea that because in this particular contrived context, the religion turned out to be "right" (whatever that's worth), all religion is somehow "right." This is childish, and it seems like a reason to criticise a show written with such a blatant agenda. But instead, this posturing is praised by those who think themselves post-modern progressive in their "tolerance" of religion.
Sat, Feb 18, 2012, 10:06am (UTC -5)
To Elliot: It wiuld be more accurate to describe the prophets as indifferent to the lives of non-Bajorans - not sadism or malice. The only reason the Prophets took direct action in the war was at the behest of 'The Sisko' who is very much ' of Bajor'.
It's also not just indifference, but a difference in understanding. Before the Emmissary, they had no concept of linear time, or more importantly, death. The end of life in the Alpha Quandrant is, for the Prophets, a non-issue, except as it touches Bajor.
For there to be malicious intent in the actions or inactions of the Prophets, they would have had to understand what lfe and death meant.

I suppose you could argue that, as non-temporal beings, the Prophets, once they understood the lessons that Sisko taught them, would have ALWAYS understood those lessons, and retroactively should have gone back and prevented all pain, suffering, and death in the universe since the dawn f time, but that's going a bit too far, and makes my head hurt to contemplate :)
Sun, Mar 25, 2012, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
@ Rob :

But, if the Prophets care about preserving life only "as it touches Bajor", they must understand what life and death are. If they want the Bajorans to remain alive as a species, they must understand what kind of species the Bajorans are--that is to say, hardly distinguishable from humans or Cardassians. They actively choose to favour the Bajorans, even going so far as to prevent genocide, ONLY to save them, not anyone else. This means they only care about the "linear" species which worships them as Gods and Ben Sisko. This, to me, is incredibly egotistical and malicious.
Brian H
Sun, Mar 25, 2012, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
"Rapture" and "In the Pale Moonlight" are my personal favorites of the series. Listen to Jammer, he knows what he is talking about. Excellent reviews as always.
Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 4:15pm (UTC -5)
@Elliott, so the Prophets' otherwise choice of non-interference = sadism? That doesn't quite tally with your vaunted "Roddenberrian" ideal, does it.

@Brian H, I completely agree. "In The Pale Moonlight" and "Rapture" are in my top 10 favorite episodes of DS9. The others in no particular order are:

"Far Beyond The Stars"
"The Visitor"
"Hard Time"
"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
"The Siege Of AR-558."
"...Nor The Battle To The Strong"
"Rocks And Shoals"
Mon, Mar 26, 2012, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
@ Justin :

You prove my point exactly--the Prophets DO interfere on very specific occasions to purposefully favour the Bajorans--although, not to prevent the Occupation; maybe they felt the Bajorans needed to learn a hard lesson, those benevolent gods...

The prophets needed a Prime Directive. Hell, that could have been a major arc in the show beginning the first time they meet Sisko--the Prophets learning, as did the Q, what humanity has to offer through the Roddenberrian filtre. But that was not to be; the Prophets are capricious and self-serving thugs.
Wed, Apr 18, 2012, 7:17pm (UTC -5)
I really really could not disagree more. Zero stars from me for this religious propaganda fantasy episode.
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
First the easy one. Mario, this is a made up religion we're talking about. Yes, I know what you're going to say - all religions are made up, but that's beside the point. This isn't Judaism or Islam or Catholicism. Sure, parallels can be drawn, but no one's insidiously couching the scripts with the teachings of Moses or Mohammed. Or Cathol.

Elliott, one of the things that survived the founding of The Federation is Freedom of Religion. Bajor is an aligned planet, so they at least pre-qualify for Federation membership. And probably for a line of credit from the Bank of Bolius, but I digress. Their religious fervor (not to mention the fact that Sisko is a religious figure) makes them a bit dodgy, but hey, welcome to the Federation. Live and let live, right? Besides - Wormhole.

Now, while I think your labeling The Prophets as "sadistic thugs" is more than a bit extreme, your point that they could use a Prime Directive of their own has merit. But they don't, and that's part of what makes them so interesting. Besides, maybe Prophet Sisko is teaching them about the Prime Directive right at this very mo- never mind, they exist outside of our perception of space-time, but you get my meaning...
Mon, Apr 23, 2012, 6:00pm (UTC -5)
@ Justin :

The show preöccupied itself with questions of faith about beings whose existence was unquestionable--it was a false argument. But putting in lines like Kira's "you don't understand it, you just have it" or whatever she said, bear the appearance of deep and controversial thought. If the series had bothered to ask whether the Bajoran gods were trustworthy or not, whether including them in the Federation (which would be implicit in annexing the wormhole) were wise, I would say kudos to the argument. The only character to voice something resembling this was Dukat in the 7th season by which point he'd become an uncomplicated cartoon villain.

The writers were clearly confused about what these prophets really were and chose to simply let that confusion permeate the show and pass it off as noble ambiguity, but this is dishonest writing.

The prophets are gods who can perform magic...but they are also transdimensional aliens...

The prophets are non-corporeal but they live "inside" the celestial temple...

The Federation does not acknowledge the divinity of these creatures, but doesn't classify them scientifically or instruct Sisko, who has regular contact with them, to study them scientifically...

Stupid, horrendous in fact, though it was in execution, TOS has an episode designed specifically to establish that the Federation is not a space-dwelling hippie commune ("The Way to Eden"). "Live in Let Live" is not a philosophy I've heard a character espouse on Trek (a good character anyway)--it's more like "Live to Make Life Better--Everyone's Life, not just Your Own."
Tue, Apr 24, 2012, 2:02pm (UTC -5)
@ Elliott, by "false argument" I take it that you mean the concept of the Bajoran faith is unworthy of being taken seriously because the Wormhole Aliens/Prophets' existence is unquestionable. I would argue that Jesus' existence is also unquestionable. It's the NATURE of his existence that the Christian faith is built upon. Likewise with the fictional Bajoran Prophets. A believer sees them as Prophets, while a non-believer sees them as Wormhole Aliens. A believer sees Jesus as divine, while a non-believer sees him as merely a man. Only a fool believes he never existed at all (not that you fall into that category).

The question of The Prophets' trustworthiness is a valid point, though, and it definitely should have been explored more by the writers. Like with many great shows, it's a thread that was left incomplete. But while such an exploration would probably divide the lines of Faith vs. Science a little more neatly, it would also add nuance and still leave the question of the nature of the Prophets' existence open to interpretation.

Fine, change "Live and Let Live" to a more apt "Live For the Betterment of All." It still doesn't alter my opinion.
Mon, Apr 30, 2012, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
@Justin :

I do mean to say that the concept of Bajoran faith is unworthy of being taken seriously; it's not merely a question of the aliens' existence, but what they can do and what it means. The Bajorans "believe" that the prophets guide and protect Bajor in return for being worshiped. This is not a belief, this is a fact. The nature of that protection is something I, for one, find repugnant, but it does not call into question issues of faith that have anything to do with real religion. In Sci-fi, one has the opportunity (and frequently the responsibility) to allegorise. Fake science is frequently a substitue for real or potentially real science as should be fake religions.

The writers chose simply not to disclose information about the prophets, but failing to disclose something doesn't make it "interesting" or mysterious, just poorly characterised.
Tue, May 1, 2012, 4:12am (UTC -5)
I liked the episode, since it addressed the problems family have with deciding what to do in a medical emergency. Star Trek and religion is always, they want the Cake and eat it, are the worm beings Supernatural and want to be worshiped or not. They never make up their mind, so their take on religion is always a cop out, its not really shown divine powers but they do not dare to say its all science. Voyager had the same problem.
3 stars from me
Wed, May 30, 2012, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
I have to agree with those that say Bajoran Faith is really not examined that well in this episode. The Orbs of the Prophets actually have powers that can be verified. They have prophecies that are pretty straightforward and come true. Their "gods" are beings that actually exist and seem to show concern for Bajor (though that's perhaps a bit of a retcon compared to how they were at first). They also seem to have taken a liking to Sisko as numerous witnesses can confirm.

What episodes like this never really think about is whether Bajoran Faith is always the same as the faiths of other religions. Bajoran Faith CAN be more like trusting a friend than other religions that have no evidence for the existence of their deities.

Starfleet is often forced to act in a rather bizarre way here. Starfleet officers have met beings with power far beyond the Prophets like Q. Yet somehow Starfleet's official stance is to act like the Wormhole Aliens have no relationship to Bajor or Sisko, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Indeed, we see Dax and O'Brian have apparent shock that people believe in the Prophets, we they know dang well they exist and do interfere.

I find Worf's comments to be a little bit out of character here, though perhaps that's just part of how he uses "faith", which isn't a very clear word. Worf seems like the sort of person who'd talk about strength of will or character, and might see what Sisko was going through as a some sort of test. Afterall, Klingon culture is replete with these sorts of painful and sometimes near-fatal tests. On the other hand, Klingon beliefs hold that they killed their gods and he's seen a number of fake gods while serving on the Enterprise. I could see him being against listening to the visions.

This of course gets to a very significant question that is undiscussed by anyone in this episode. Does it make sense to trust the Wormhole Aliens/Prophets? Given the nature of the visions, it seems pretty clear they are involved. Why doesn't the Admiral or anyone else question whether they should trust the source of these visions? Surely the Wormhole Aliens [WAs] have their own agenda? Does it necessarily line up with Bajor? The WAs claim it does, but that doesn't mean they aren't lying about that and other things. Perhaps the WAs are a force working against the Federation -- they don't seem to have a problem (at this point in the show), letting the Dominion come through the wormhole and muck up the Alpha Quadrant. If you claim the WAs aren't connected enough to the normal flow of time to be judged this way, then that casts doubt on the validity of following those visions as well.

An interesting fact about the show that people often don't consider is this. When you look at the series as a whole, it certainly doesn't seem like the Prophets consider themselves divine and they seem rather oblivious to worship. The implications of this on Bajoran society is never carefully considered.

Elliott brings up a good point here as well. Why didn't the Federation ever consider having the Prophets join? The Federation certainly has a lot of strange and bizarre races that are part of it. The Medusans from the original show are energy beings that drive people insane who view them -- they are members. There are other beings from the original show and TNG with other strange powers equally as bizarre. The WAs wouldn't really be out of place, and there's no particular reason why they couldn't join. Heck, it might have been interesting to explore the idea that they already consider themselves members (and how Starfleet deals with that), given their temporal troubles.

A really thorough examining of the WAs would also have made a great counter-point to the Dominion, where the Changelings are likewise considered divine. The WAs are benevolent, but out of touch, whereas the Changelings are domineering and favor micromanagement. Both have people that worship them (whether these "gods" are really aware of it or care is another matter).

That said, I think this episode is very entertaining. I'd still give it 3/4 Stars. It would have been better if they didn't dumb down the situation into a simple blind faith vs. non-belief when the actual situation is much more complex.
Mon, Aug 13, 2012, 1:04pm (UTC -5)
Man, do I agree with the review here. Another fantastic take on religion, with all the complexity and subtlety we're used to from DS9.

Although I also think Brooks' acting awkwardness and directing averageness almost kills the episode. But the script is so strong it's manageable. If Sisko were played by Patrick Stewart and the episode directed by David Livingstone (who did a stellar job on "Visitor"), this would be right up there with Inner Light.
Wed, Nov 7, 2012, 10:06am (UTC -5)
This episode is another of many that highlight why DS9 is simply not "real" Trek. Im not talking about whether its well written or acted or anything like that but it betrays some of the core principles that Star Trek is built around.

Roddenberry was himself a secular humanist and his vision of the future and therefore Star Trek was a world where humanity had accepted this worldview. He made this clear to the shows writers. Brandon Braga has said that Gene made it clear that not a single human being believes in anything supernatural.

It's OK if you dont like that but if you think religion and supernatural belief's are a natural fit for Star Trek than you're under some false impressions of the nature of Trek.
Sun, Nov 25, 2012, 12:51am (UTC -5)
Roddenberry's vision is not the last word on what Star Trek is about or ever was about. It's not as if the writers followed his directive either. For that matter, there's ample evidence in TOS and the movies that Kirk and co. weren't atheists. Roddenberry's vision also includes the Vulcan "katra" and a vast array of omnipotent beings who behave like the gods of the Ancient World.

Plus, in "Data's Day", Data makes mention of the passing of the "Hindu festival of lights". Are we supposed to think that non-humans were celebrating it?

As for the episode, it's always been a favourite of mine. But then I like stories with mythic aspects that aren't written to confirm with an arbitrary Trek mythos or "vision".
Mon, Dec 10, 2012, 3:23pm (UTC -5)
Everybody get over the Patrick Stewart and Avery Brooks comparison. There is none. There is a reason why Deep Space Nine is the most critically acclaimed Star Trek series of them all. It's because the writers were inspired by Avery's performance. To think that Patrick Stewart is so brilliant because of "Inner Light" is ludicrous. Scott Bakula was an wooden and empty captain. William Shatner was a wise-cracking pretty fly-boy. Patrick Stewart was decent enough but was boring and Kate Mulgrew was average but spunky, while Avery was commanding with his deep baritone voice, was tender as a father and sociable with his fellow officers. When he reprimanded you, you froze but he was also flexible as when he quietly helped O'brien help Tosk or when he provided Kira a runabout to rescue a Bajoran prisoner. He was a brilliant engineer (was part of the team that designed the Defiant at the Utopia Planitea Yards), was a master strategist (taking command of an entire armada of Starfleet vessels). He was a deeply religious man (the Emissary). You think an average actor would have been given such a character profile? Hardly. Again, Deep Space Nine was the most expensive and most acclaimed series of them all and this was due to not only the excellent production values, writing, cast ensemble but ultimately the strength of Avery Brooks commanding portrayal of Captain Benjamin Sisko, the Emissary.
Tue, Dec 25, 2012, 6:08am (UTC -5)
Not touching Sam's post.

But to Hegemon, I'd say DS9 seems pretty consistent with that rule. All of the human characters don't express either way if they're religious or not, those sorts of concepts all come from Bajorans in the episode and, obliquely, from Worf.

Also as has been pointed out, while the Bajorans couch it all in "religious" terms, Starfleet sees it as non-linear aliens living inside a womrhole, so it doesn't seem like it would be very complicated for them.

Now, whether the Federation accepts religious members is an interesting question posed further up. I'd say when that candidate has access to a stable wormhole, the Federation would let them in regardless.

Also regarding the episode, the revelation in Season 7 that Sisko is part-Prophet makes his ability to see the future here quite interesting. I suppose it depends on if their non-linear nature comes purely down to knowledge, or if it's an inherent part of them that was passed down in some fashion.
Wed, Mar 6, 2013, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
I just noticed tonight a nice little touch during the scene in Quark's celebrating Bajor's pending Federation membership. Dax and Worf are drinking from glasses with little Federation seals on them - a nice detail to be sure.

Avery Brooks provides an interesting performance. Most of the time Sisko is fairly down-to-earth but here he always seems a bit eccentric-unhinged by his visions. It's almost a subtle touch, but he modulates his voice and mannerisms in such a way that in just about every scene he seems noticeably different.

I've been doing a season five rewatch and it holds up very well so far!
William B
Thu, Apr 11, 2013, 8:56am (UTC -5)
Re: why Bashir didn't relieve Sisko of duty

It's true that there are political reasons, but there a much simpler explanation for why *Bashir* didn't relieve Sisko of duty in this episode. Hint: it's revealed in "In Purgatory's Shadow." :)

(I kid -- that doesn't change the substance of the discussion in any major way.)
Thu, Aug 8, 2013, 1:15pm (UTC -5)
Just want to echo agreement with Jammer's rating for this episode. Star Trek has always been a commentary about the human condition. Religion has been, and is, part of the human condition, and most likely will be for a very long time, and this episode touched on the issues well. Jammer already covered why this is a good episode, so 4 stars here.
Thu, Oct 24, 2013, 9:43pm (UTC -5)
The Bajoran religion is not interesting to me.

Thu, Nov 21, 2013, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
While I agree with most of Jammers reviews - I found this episode very very dull, lumbering and pedestrian effort. Brookes performance was as wooden and scenery chewing as ever, and I found myself actually bored.

A bit of a tiresome new age unfocussed bother to watch.... only one star from me - for the development of Kai Winn and the good scene with Worf, Kira, Dax and O'Brien in Ops
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
How an episode like that can be rated fours starts out of four, is beyond me. Of course I read the entire Jammer's review, as I always do. In fact I've been reading the site for a while, but this is the first time I felt compelled to comment. And why? It is simple.

In this episode, we see Sisko having visions about the future. There is not even sufficient technobabble thrown on the table to try explain how Sisko is supposed to have those spiritual visions of the future. In this episode, Star Trek starts getting a Star Wars flavor that it shouldn't have ever get.

Not that I despise religions, or even think that humans are all necessarily atheistic or even agnostic in the Roddenberrian future (although most humans certainly are, considering the tips given in past Trek). This is not the point. The points are: 1) how can someone have such visions of the future without a good rationale explanation in the Trek world; 2) how can a Starfleet Officer make judgements and huge calls as Sisko made here, based on those visions, without being released of duty either before that (by Bashir, as Elliot mentioned above) or after (as deserved punishment) those decisions.

This is not a merely odd episode. Those were not merely awkward decisions in a Trek universe. Those wer huge plot changing decisions in a hugely plot chaging episode, once it delayed the entrance of Bajor in the Federation of Planets.

I can see many good things in the episode regarding the writing, the character development, even some acting moments, etc. But how can those things surpass the atrocity that the plot injures Trek with, is just beyond any coherent reasoning I can find. Sorry guys, I liked the structure of the episode, but a huge plot change caused my unexplained religious visions of the future in a Star Wars way? No, sorry.

2.5 or 3 stars to the episode structure and writting. 1 star to the plot. On average, 1.5 to episode as a whole.
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
Ric: "There is not even sufficient technobabble thrown on the table to try explain how Sisko is supposed to have those spiritual visions of the future."

(babble babble) wormhole aliens (babble babble) non-linear (babble babble).

You don't have to like the show's reliance on magical, godlike entities, but you must admit they explain a lot. So anytime you see something like that, a Prophet did it.
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
@Grumpy: Um, so because they happened to have mentioned "non-linear" prophets, that makes any action they take defensible? So if in the 1st season of Voyager, Harry Kim invented a self-powering shuttle replicator, no one would criticise the incredible supply they seemed to have? Just having an explanation, no matter how stupid, is sufficient?
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 11:25pm (UTC -5)
@Grumpy I see your point and I am glad you came with this. But what amuses me is that not even the babble-babble wormhole, babble-babble non-linear card was effectively used in this episode. In fact, they sort of took it as granted that we would just recall and rely on those babbles.

Or in other words, in this episode authors seem convinced that, as @Elliott has just said, anything written for the show that does not immediately fit into the fictional reality of Trek by default, will be automatically accounted for by a magictechnobabble that is not even present neither in this episode, nor in any recent episodes. This is just too lazy and too easy an approach to, saying the least, be praised as an outstanding episode.

In the same tone, regarding the magical godlike entities, I agree with you that at this point it is an explanation. But it is not certainly an elaborate one. It is not only a matter of taste. I dislike other things in this and other Star Trek shows, as it is normal regarding any show. But here we are talking about something that is very contradictory to the Trek reality so far: magic-like technobabble. It does fit, into the reality proposed by Star Wars, to have such a thing as the Force. It does not fit in the reality we've been presented in Trek to have magic god-like creatures without careful explanation. Take, for instance, Q in the TNG show. Of course he had godlike powers as we think of gods, but in every Q episode we were exposed clearly and coherently to how he has been messing things around and how humans reacted coherently to that. In the current DS9 episode, this is not the same. We are exposed to Sisko having an electric shock when playing with ancient religious pieces, then Sisko just starts seeing the future and making decisions solely based on that, without the natural consequences.

If the idea was to do with Sisko similar something similar to what happens to Pickard in “All the good things…”, it clearly didn't work the same. And why? We just have to compare how both episodes were built and explained. In the TNG one, the causes for Pickard seeing the future were made very clear and had rationale; the reaction of Starfleet and even the Enterprise officers to Pickard traveling his mind through time was very credible: distrust and consternation; and the decision to alter events based on a knowledge of the future was made by Picard after a good deal of philosophical dilemma. Nothing like those things came even close to happening in this DS9 episode.
Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 11:31pm (UTC -5)
Btw, do not get my whole thing wrong. I really like DS9 in general and its provocative sort of anti-Roddenberrian ideal world. But starting to rely on such things as magical-because-nonlinear-things, as an excuse to do any plot change they desire without the limits of credibility, is just something that cannot be praised as a gold medal episode. Instead of as an at least flawed one, even if having its qualities.
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 4:32pm (UTC -5)
Ugh. Every time I watch this episode I find something new to hate--did anyone else catch that line from Worf? He essentially says (and Kira backs him up) that supernatural faith in ANYTHING is simply, automatically good, no matter what. Does anyone else say, "I don't see the evidence for that." or "Could you be more specific?" or preferably "That's fucking stupid." Nope. All we get is Dax and O'Brien saying, "gee I hope that's true for Sisko's sake." I have seen more cogent religious debate on the 700 Club. How anyone can call this writing "deft" must, in my view, be so anxious to see Star Trek apologise for its atheistic origins as to miss the gross contrivances which piece this episode together.
Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Ugh. Every time I watch this episode I find something new to hate--did anyone else catch that line from Worf? He essentially says (and Kira backs him up) that supernatural faith in ANYTHING is simply, automatically good, no matter what. Does anyone else say, "I don't see the evidence for that." or "Could you be more specific?" or preferably "That's fucking stupid." Nope. All we get is Dax and O'Brien saying, "gee I hope that's true for Sisko's sake." I have seen more cogent religious debate on the 700 Club. How anyone can call this writing "deft" must, in my view, be so anxious to see Star Trek apologise for its atheistic origins as to miss the gross contrivances which piece this episode together.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 3:09pm (UTC -5)
Don't even try to figure it out, Elliott. In Accession, Odo calls Kira out on the "Sisko's the emissary, now suddenly Akorem is" nonsense, and she retorts this gibberish:

"That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary."

...and then that's it. The episode acts as if Kira was struck a mortal, logical blow to Odo's whole question, when she did nothing of the kind.
Sun, Feb 23, 2014, 10:25pm (UTC -5)
This one was really heavy. Heavy, illogical, and weird. I don't dislike it exactly; I just thought it was overdone. Sisko wouldn't go from grounded authority figure to starry-eyed prophet just because he had a few visions. The writers should have been less out front with the religious stuff and offered a stronger secular/scientific perspective--i.e. Sisko's obsession + aftereffects of the power surge cause him to have hallucinations. I'm not against Bajor and its religion being a factor, but stuff like this is too heavy-handed and you can't expect a sci-fi audience to buy it.

Still, it was compelling, though I agree more with O'Brien and Dax than Worf and Kira--who remains an awesome character, even with her head in the clouds.
Wed, Feb 26, 2014, 5:21pm (UTC -5)
Seems episodes such as these are a major point of contention for quite a few people. I stand by my belief that when a show enjoys the ability to touch on many aspects in life, then there's no reason not to.

I'm glad Star Trek didn't barricade itself into the "since religion is not a major issue for the Federation then let's just say there's no other species where it is". Now not only does that free the writers to delve into another aspect of life with a sci-fi bent. But they even took it a little further with the involvement of it while being careful not to let it overshadow things. It's not always perfect but then nothing is. Look at ST:V. That was a horrible convoluted mess on almost every level.

I'm not going to really get into the specifics of the above comments, though. I have my own reasons why I like this episode. There's a few lines of dialogue that are a bit out of place and could have been better given more thoughtful rewrite. However, the direction and acting were reliable as ever. The purposeful foreshadowing and overall cohesiveness was admirable.

In my opinion, great stuff but not among the best. 3.5 stars.
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Funnily enough the uniform change led me to believe that the whole episode wasn't "real".
I first noticed the difference after he was shocked and was talking to bashir, which seemed to me a designation of the difference between reality and wherever the event were happening in. Very confusing.
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:04am (UTC -5)
"It's because the writers were inspired by Avery's performance."

.... wow ....

"I found this episode very very dull, lumbering and pedestrian effort. Brookes performance was as wooden and scenery chewing as ever, and I found myself actually bored."

Agree whole-heartedly.

Unbelievable that Sisko wasn't temporarily relieved by Bashir or the frellin ADMIRAL that was there.

Character building for Winn? lol ... really? Kira BEAT her previously because Kira has always believed Sisko was the Emissary.

Only after Sisko's actions follow the scriptures does she come to Kira with this:

"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."

She's just trying to justify herself to Kira. She suffered more, blah, blah...

This is kin of like the "friendship" that Dukat envisions is present with him and Sisko.

No character development her at all for Winn, she hasn't changed at all. She HAD to admit she was wrong, that's the only reason she did it.

1 star because Sisko keeps Bajor out of the Federation so I guess he IS "for Bajor". The only reason I watched this one is because I'm grading all the episodes.
Mon, Aug 11, 2014, 11:59am (UTC -5)
It's been a long time since Sam posted but you must be smoking some bajoran weed if you thing Brooks is a better actor than Stewart. Maybe you've seen his other film work or something. I haven't. But in ds9 his voice sounds creepy. Sometimes when he's talking to Cassidy he'll almost whisper and sound like a crazy person. Or out of nowhere he'll read his lines like he's in a Shakespeare play. Go back and watch that ep rocks and shoals. Great ep but when they are debating killing the jem hadar he says something like "if it's them or us there is NO CHOICE. He rolls his tongue and sounds so funny you can see colm meaney trying to hold back a laugh.

As for the characters Sisko is the worst captain. What did it is him being fooled by the wormhole aliens into believing they are Gods. Both Kirk and Picard have run into powerful beings who portray themselves as God and sometimes to planets they look over. But Kirk and Picard are never fooled by them. I mean Sisko had to teach the aliens about linear time. The same linear time the bajorans live in. Picard and Kirk would never have been dumb enough to be fooled to
the point of risking their son's life and the life of their crew to allow the aliens to battle it out on their ship. And they definitely wouldn't have abandoned they family and starfleet to join the aliens. Sisko had some great qualities in the early seasons but once the aliens got him to follow them he turns into a trajic figure who also decides to throw away many of his morals for either what he sees as the greater good or for whatever the aliens need him to do. Wow. That was a lot of typing. I will say that quark is a great character though.
Wed, Sep 10, 2014, 10:32pm (UTC -5)
@ Jack:

"Odo calls Kira out on the "Sisko's the emissary, now suddenly Akorem is" nonsense, and she retorts this gibberish:

'That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary.'

...and then that's it. The episode acts as if Kira was struck a mortal, logical blow to Odo's whole question, when she did nothing of the kind."

Not sure this comment will be seen by anyone who's already posted in this thread, but:

Kira's justifications are cringe-worthy to adamant non-believers (like myself), but I'm not sure the episode *necessarily* sides with her, just like I don't think other episodes side with her on issues of terrorism (i.e., "The Darkness and the Light"). Though I admit the exchange you mention leaves a lot to be desired - a lot of “Accession” is undercooked to begin with. There needed to be more there.

"Rapture", however, is much better - if only because the episode is written and shot to feel more like a milestone than as a freelanced one-off. "Rapture" could have easily been a procedural of Sisko figuring out B'hala, but it included the Bajor-Federation plot, Winn's soul searching, the return of Kasidy, proclamations for the series' future, AND it put Jake in a rough spot.

B'hala itself is fascinating - adding scope and historical weight to the Bajoran setting we're already familiar with. Sisko seeing the fabric of the universe is provocative as well, a great twist because it's been simmering so long. It's the first time Sisko-as-Emissary is given cosmic heft. The stakes have risen and we're careening towards revelations we didn't know were coming. Until now, the Emissary story has been largely political at times and not-unlike other convening-with-deities episodes at others. Here, Sisko is temporarily granted clairvoyance which is plausible given what we already know about the Prophets and Bajoran mysticism and which is alluring because Sisko is unable to maintain it. Sisko finally throwing his hat in with the Prophets feels earned as well, and the various reactions of the crew are a nice look at how different viewpoints interpret “revelations” like this.

Jake's decision to go through with the surgery, urged by Bashir, is well done. Here, rationalism wins out, despite what some posters are calling propaganda. If Winn had her way, Sisko probably would have died even though she and Kira both thought the Prophets were watching over him (which is the case, yes, but not a certainty that they'd prevent him from dying). Winn's ugly comment about Jake being selfish is damning for her character, and actually strikes a balance between giving the Bajoran religion credence (the Prophets do exist) while also still illustrating the flaws of faith (assuming the Prophets are benevolent without evidence).

For handling all these elements, I think "Rapture" is a standout episode of the series. It used to be one of my favourites, but re-watching it again reveals that it isn't perfect:

-Admiral Whatley, never seen before, has no gravitas. Admirals usually don't have much presence on this show, but in this case they really needed one. In fact, DS9 probably should have had a go-to admiral character to be Sisko's contact at Starfleet by this point. I know they eventually get one, but Sisko's mission being a political one he really needed a higher-up to put a face on the Federation Council. Someone that already has a rapport with Sisko; someone whose presence in the flesh indicates a big deal. Instead, Whatley comes off as relatively weak, especially his weak-ass reprimand of Sisko for botching the induction. That scene should have been fiery, at the very LEAST.

-Sisko bursting in on the delegations and his "locusts!" line. A little bit... too dramatic. The Bajorans aren't signing their souls away, so stopping them minutes from putting pen to paper seems a bit forced. I would have liked to see a scene with Sisko speaking with Winn and Shakaar (whose absence is another flaw) and having THEM make the decision without any fireworks.

-Sisko walking down the promenade making pronouncements to people. This show usually lays it on a bit too thick at some point in every episode, but here it seems especially silly. He tells that one Bajoran, "You don't belong here. Go home." The extra just nods and walks off screen. Okay...?

Other than these quibbles, "Rapture" is stand out. Jammer compared episodes like "The Sword of Kahless" to Indiana Jones, but *this* is the episode that exudes that Jones-like wonder in the weight of myth for me. It's not my favourite hour of DS9 anymore, but it's still quality and its influence is a cornerstone of the series. 3 1/2 stars by Jammer's system.


One more thing I want to mention, because a lot of people are hung up on the R-word:

Tolerating the beliefs of others does not mean one shares those beliefs. The Federation wanting Bajor is a mark in their favour – but full-on assimilation, including Bajorans giving up their religion, is not the goal, despite what characters like Quark, Garak, or Eddington say. The show pokes some holes in the Federation's facade but still shows that it is ultimately a force of good in the Alpha Quadrant.

Assuming the show DIDN'T depict the factual existence of the Prophets, the Federation would still be in the right to want Bajor to join up. If you're looking for where the line should be drawn on accepting counter-philosophies, “Accession” is it. The Federation will rightly tolerate benign beliefs, but will absolutely not help oversee a caste-based society or any philosophy that arbitrarily limits the freedoms of its citizens. The cultural relativism ends there as far as the Feds are concerned. As it is, the Bajorans have their faith and harm no one in the process (outside of some instances of extremist violence, but which isn't shown to be a basic tenet of the faith) – one either accepts them or casts them out. Exclusion requires significant justification, and I don't think there's adequate justification for denouncing the Bajorans.

For an indictment of the ugly side of dogma and belief, there's the Dominion. Its followers murder and suicide for their gods, believing only because they've been bred to. The Dominion doesn't keep to itself. It doesn't care if you believe in the Founders because the imperial religion of the Dominion espouses no philosophy and enriches no one's life and doesn't seek to. Joining them and following their rules is enough for them – the belief part is only there to get the imperial ball rolling so others can be dragged into the fold. The show makes no bones about the evil of the Founders and the damage done to the races under their control. The Bajoran religion, on the other hand, has its own problems which are depicted fairly sensibly. Why have two concepts act as foils to one another only to subject them both to ridicule and exclusion?
Sun, Dec 14, 2014, 3:03pm (UTC -5)
Interesting that Jammer put 4 stars to this episode, because personally that's the episode where DS9 started to piss me off personally, talking about religion and gods like it's a real thing, and crossing from "star trek" to supernatural bullshit. I'd give it 0 stars.
Sun, Dec 14, 2014, 3:17pm (UTC -5)
PS: Agree 100% with everything KanarWithDamar says in their comment. Sisko is the worst Captain for these reasons (and actually more, but regarding this episode and the whole Bajoran religion thing this is enough). That's the episode when he starts to believe in himself as the emissary, which if I had been the Federation, would have been reason enough to cut him as a captain to DS9. Of course, DS9 is a TV show, and the character was written that way (and we're supposed to admire him for it), so the fault lies entirely with the writers of DS9.
Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 8:33pm (UTC -5)
"that's the episode where DS9 started to piss me off personally, talking about religion and gods like it's a real thing, and crossing from "star trek" to supernatural bullshit."

Yeah but the prophets / wormhole aliens ARE real in the DS9 universe. Many characters on the show have had run-ins with them or more. They aren't some intangible thing, otherwise you would have made a good point.
Sat, Dec 27, 2014, 4:27pm (UTC -5)
You are totally missing the point, Del. The reason people believe in Jesus, or Allah, or other deities is because they are NOT tangible. They are not believed to be merely another species, but a great maker. If people found out tomorrow that Jesus was actually an alien from a distant planet, Christianity would be dead in the water.

The Bajorans have accepted, by and large, that their prophets are in fact aliens. So what makes them different to the Klingons? Oh, yeah, they can "see the future". No. It's also accepted in Trek's universe that this is not a special event. Q, for example, is far more god-like than the wormhole aliens, but they aren't worshipping him. The whole idea of the wormhole aliens as gods is absolutely idiotic.

This episode is entertaining, but has some very annoying parts, like all this religion mumbo jumbo badly written. But it is not helped by the disastrous acting of Avery Brooks.
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 6:53am (UTC -5)
Ok, but but if Jesus is real he likely is another species. If an intelligent entity exists out there that is God it's not going to be human.

Zeus was the most powerful of the Greek gods but some priests served temples of much lesser Gods. Should they have only devoted their worship to the most powerful ones?

If we met God tomorrow and he was a Q and he could prove her created our planet and that he shepherds our souls into an afterlife you REALLY think nobody would worship him?

Now I'm not saying Bajorans go to the wormhole when they die (because I have no flipping clue), but their Gods clearly send them orbs while Q does jack for them.
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
That isn't what I said at all, and nor is what the writers of DS9 are saying. They have shown that Kira and her people KNOW that the "gods" are aliens in the wormhole. Aliens just like any other, with the added ability to perceive time differently (like Q), and yet they still pray to them and worship them.

A religion does not work this way. It never has. It never will. That's the mistake the DS9 writers made (they don't understand religion at all), and it's the mistake you are making too.
Mon, Dec 29, 2014, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
Your comment was two fold

1) That we wouldn't believe in Jesus (or at least worship him) if he were "actually an alien from a distant planet".

2) That the wormhole aliens "powers" are nothing special (in Trek lore) and likely not even the most god-like of the god-like things Trek's travelers have encountered.

You don't have to agree with me, but I addressed both of those points. I think that we would worship a Q like being if we met one and he had a special connection to our world (maybe Jesus was a Q) and that the Bajoran affinity for the Wormhole aliens has more to do with their perceived parent/child relationship than their "limitless" powers.

It's a lot like the Edo and their God (only way more fleshed out).
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
@ Robert and DLPB :

I have commented about this in another spot, but it's worth repeating. The source of the conflict here is in the conflation of two very different definitions of a god. The Abrahamic God (and a few other gods in more obscure religions), as DLPB pointed out, is intangible, omnipotent, timeless--it is literally *meta*physical in that it lies *outside* of the spheres of science. This is directly linked to the God's origins as a pre-scientific conceptualisation. It was born from a people who had not yet discovered science. For a believer in this god, all laws of nature eventually lead back to God; why does the Sun set? God. Why is there a bountiful harvest? God. Why did grandma die? God.

The gods of antiquity (and a few extant gods as well) can coëxist with science because they are bound by the laws of nature, not above them. These gods are metaphysical in the original Greek sense (naturally) in that they are an *abstraction* of reality. They are not a substitute for science, but a substitute for psychology.

The problem with the Wormhole Aliens is that the writers make them gods in the latter sense (those of antiquity) but make the Bajorans behave and worship them like believers in the former god (Abrahamic). The real-life consequences of believing in these different types of gods are stupendous, but the writers on DS9 treat them as interchangeable, which is what makes the Bajoran religion so infuriating.
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
So do you think if the real rapture happened and the second coming of Jesus turns out to be John DeLancie with Q powers that all Christians would stop worshipping him?

IE - Do you really believe that no ancient people worshipped an individual God (Zeus or Ares) in the sense of the way Bajorans worship their Gods?

And I'm not sure Bajorans believe bad things happen "because God". Kira doesn't seem to blame them for the occupation.

Actually the only ones in the entire series that really seem to expect the prophets to do ANYTHING are Sisko and Winn.
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 2:21pm (UTC -5)
@Robert, just think about what you're implying :

Q disguised himself as various figures in one obscure part of the world for thousands of years in order to manipulate the people there into creating a mythology (he created Judaism).

THEN, he appeared as a revolutionary Jewish figure (Jesus) for 30 years or so in order to *undermine* the very religion he created in order to create a second religion which would spend thousands of years persecuting believers in the former.

THEN, on some undisclosed date, he would "return" in order to complete the prophecy he himself invented in order to pull a GOTCHA on the those members of the religion who happened to be living in that particular moment.

And all of this to accomplish what, exactly?

Christians today would not believe Q if he claimed to be God ("Tapestry" anyone?) or to have always been God because Q's nature does not make him a god in the Christian sense--he may be powerful, but he is not metaphysical; he is not *above* the laws of the Universe, he conforms to them.


I was unclear in my previous post--yes there were some ancient peoples who worshipped the Type A (Abrahamic) god; I only used the term "antique" as a label, not a generalisation.


The fact that Kira does not blame the Prophets for the Occupation is a product of her own sophomoric psyche. So her gods wanted to impregnate Sarah Sisko, delete a Dominion Fleet and send her back in time to meet her mum? Sure. But no they had no hand in ignoring the half-century of suffering she and her people endured. That's called Battered Spouse Syndrome, not theology.
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 3:22pm (UTC -5)
I get what you are saying about metaphysical, but I'm not convinced that Q isn't and I think he'd be able to pick up a following.

As to his motivations? Kicks and giggles if it were Q.

And as for the prophets, I think you and I have done that one to death :-)

Happy New Year!
Sat, Jan 3, 2015, 9:07pm (UTC -5)
Yes. What you have written there is completely correct. We can at least agree on some things. The Bajoran "religion" was badly written, likely because the writers had no understanding of the points you have just made. Confused Matthew also makes a very interesting observation that when Dukhat closes the wormhole, the Bajoran people start to put their faith in the "anti-gods", the Pah-wraith. Even Kai Winn. Confused Matthew sums it up just like I would: "Religions do not work that way".
Sun, Jan 4, 2015, 7:37pm (UTC -5)
Great episode but I found it quite jarring that Sisko had to placate that admiral (deserves an award for bland characterization & bad acting).
William B
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 2:31pm (UTC -5)
I don't mean to beat a dead horse, and this is nothing new, but the thing is, even if we accept that even if human religions largely don't work the way the Bajoran religion does, there's still precedent within Trek for something like the Bajorans/Prophets relationship taking on something like worship, and lots of effort being placed to point out why this is wrong. TOS had godlike aliens constantly, and even one who was ACTUALLY APOLLO (which doesn't make much sense, but it's TOS so I think it's just best to go with it). But the fact that Apollo was LITERALLY APOLLO doesn't mean he should be worshiped as a divinity in the sense of a being of higher moral authority, or someone whose decrees must automatically be followed, or whatever. The episode was very clear. Humans worshiped ACTUALLY APOLLO, in the "Who Mourns for Adonais?" version of history, because humans were naive and Apollo and the other "Greek Gods" had superpowers, and we are beyond that now -- which is partly an exploration of the way humans are now beyond the naive need to ascribe to deities natural or psychological phenomena the way they used to. Similarly, Picard immediately does everything possible to shut down being worshiped by the Mintakans.

The beings in TOS & TNG who declared themselves Gods or Devils, or allowed themselves to be worshiped as Gods, were always either deluded or drunk on their own power (like Apollo, or Gary Mitchell) or flagrantly using their divine status to do a scam (Ardra posing as "the Devil"), and they were all correctly identified as not actually being Gods deserving of worship. Heck, the correctly maligned Star Trek V had Kirk undermine "God" in ten seconds by asking what God needs with a space ship, thus demonstrating that this being was not the omnipotent being that God is supposed to be.

What's even weirder is that WITHIN DS9, they have a really obvious example which they fail to properly interrogate. The Founders declare themselves Gods so that they cannot be questioned by their underlings. This shows that they are evil, domination-craving creatures; and this has some precedent in human history, with some emperors and pharaohs declaring themselves God-Kings to keep the "rabble" in line. And this is obviously, totally wrong for the Founders to encourage this, and the only time I can think of when a non-Dominion-aligned character took it seriously was the way Odo and Kira sorta took pity on the "good" Weyoun in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" and Odo consented to play a Godlike role for Weyoun at the end and Kira seemed to think that Weyoun seeing Odo as a God would be a pleasant thing for him. The most explicit dialogue linking the Founder/Vorta and Prophets/Bajoran relationship comes in this dialogue:

WEYOUN: Pah wraiths and Prophets. All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense.
DAMAR: You believe that the Founders are gods, don't you?
WEYOUN: That's different.
DAMAR: In what way?
WEYOUN: The Founders are gods.

The joke of the scene is that the Founders aren't gods, and Weyoun thinks they are because he's been programmed to by the Founders. But someone should listen to Damar, and someone should have turned the question around on Kira or someone. Swap "Weyoun" with "Kira," Damar with say Odo, and Founders and Prophets and you get:

KIRA: Founders as Gods. All this talk of gods strikes me as nothing more than superstitious nonsense.
ODO: You believe that the Prophets are gods, don't you?
KIRA: That's different.
ODO: In what way?
KIRA: The Prophets are gods.


One *can* argue that the Prophets aren't like the Founders because, unlike the Founders, they don't make the Bajorans worship them, and this argument might be true as of what we know of the Prophets in s1 or so. That still doesn't explain why the Prophets merely being worshiped by the Bajorans gives them divine status, but it at least would allow the Prophets to merely be powerful beings who happen to be worshiped and don't take the time (or nonlinear time or whatever) like Picard to clear up the misconceptions, which makes them irresponsible or, generously, unable to comprehend Bajoran worship at all, but not evil dominators like the Founders. Fine. But then as the series goes on, the Wormhole Aliens' protestations of being unable to understand linear time become less and less convincing, since they apparently give visions where they tell Kira who to date and who not to date ("Children of Time"), interfere in Bajor joining the Federation which is a way worse outcome than 60 years of Bajor being occupied by Cardassia ("Rapture"), make clear which of Sisko or Akorem is the real Emissary, implying that they *do* believe that an Emissary should exist and thus that they are at least a little bit aware of their "divine" status with the Bajorans ("Accession"), wipe out a Dominion fleet ("Sacrifice of Angels"), and apparently mindcontrolled of Sisko's mother in order to produce Sisko (s7). They needed to mind-control a woman in order to produce Sisko because, they needed him as their Emissary because, uh...well...I mean, who else would explain time to them using baseball metaphors, if they hadn't set him up to do so?

The Prophets' behaviour, in order words, comes to look basically the same as the Founders'; their taking over Sisko's mother to breed a Benjamin Sisko because they need a Benjamin Sisko for some reason is a more specific, less extensive, version of the Founders' genetic engineering program. They were taking an active role in choosing how the Bajorans would worship them, and via whom.

Some criticisms of the Prophets eventually come up, mostly through Dukat acting as mouthpiece for the Pah-Wraiths, but they get dropped quickly and are articulated by villains.

Meanwhile, the Prophets' motivations are never clarified, whereas the Founders' remain relatively constant. The Founders want to dominate or wipe out all life that can hurt them, because they believe that solids will always betray them unless they are genetically engineered not to. They want to bring Odo back to them, but also on their terms, which also means punishing him when he hurts them. There are individual points where the Founders' actions don't make sense given their general goals, but generally their goals are at least fairly clear. The Prophets, uh, want to protect Bajor except when they don't, talk Sisko into not joining the Federation because Bajor will be hurt by the Dominion and then destroy the Dominion fleet anyway, claim to have no ability to comprehend linear time and tell Kira whom to date, etc. The Pah-Wraiths are evil because they, uh, are fire? How is the Pah-Wraiths possessing Jake against his consent, which is shown to be evil (correctly), different from the Prophets possessing Sarah Sisko, which is just taken as fine and dandy? What is it about the Pah-Wraiths that is different from the Prophets, except that they're all red and fiery and stuff?

So even if we accept that the Bajoran "religion" is not meant to be analogous to human religions, which raises the question of why it's treated with human-religion-like terms all the time, the show *still* fails to point out that there is little distinction between the Prophets and the Founders (or the Pah-Wraiths), and relatedly why Sisko or Kira are ultimately different in terms of their loyalty to the Prophets from Weyoun's blind, pathetic loyalty to the Prophets. Except Weyoun at least had one clone who could think for himself about whether his Gods might be mistaken, whereas Kira never did that, and Sisko's "thinking for himself" is mostly shown to be a bad thing causing sorrow.
Thu, Jan 8, 2015, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
There are 3 separate issues here. So let's break it down.

1) Elliott, when speaking of the prophets, is fond of pointing out that the Bajorans should know better than to lend the prophets moral authority over their lives. "Following" a God's teaching is allowing it moral authority and is one aspect of worship.

2) Revering a higher power is a second element of worship. Think celebrity "worship". This can be connected with a) (ie, I'm going on some crazy diet or buying some random product because person X does so) or it can be separate from b) (teenage girls may have Bieber postered around their room in shrine-like fashion without lending him any moral authority in their life. The point I'm tossing out here is that 1 & 2 are related, but not always joined.

3) Belief. You either believe a God exists and has the power to do what it says it can do in your holy texts or you don't.

I'd argue that the only one of these things that is particularly problematic is 1. (3 is clearly a non-issue, the "prophets" are in the wormhole and do have the powers the texts claim they have) But the issues with 1 are 2 sided. The first is... why are we granting beings that don't even understand linear existence moral authority over our lives? The second is if we are even able to judge what the prophets want anyway. Kira and Bareil are seen to argue over prophecy and the Bajorans re-instituted a caste system at the behest of a false emissary.

So let me be clear that I think belief in a God and even reverence of a superior being (or the prophets) is not an issue or a weakness. When the Bajorans attempt to do the will of the prophets they often end up worse off and clearly shown to be wrong (this happens to Winn, Neela, Akorem, Yarka and others).

So I think the show agrees that it is a poor idea to put moral authority in a human interpreting the will of an entity they cannot understand. But how about Kira/Sisko who actually speak to the prophets occasionally and sometimes even get them to do THEIR bidding?

I guess that's just a question of faith in whether or not the prophets have their best interest in heart and know better than they do. Can someone who sees the future as though it was the present "know better" than you? Arguably yes. People put moral authority in their parents... even into adulthood sometimes. And one of Sisko's parents IS a prophet to boot.

Just random thoughts on the matter....
William B
Sun, Jan 11, 2015, 9:16pm (UTC -5)
@Robert, it is a good point that there is a distinction between the "worship" of a celebrity, say, (2), and worship in the sense of bestowing higher authority (1), and that these both are distinct from the pure belief that the gods really exist and can really do what they say (3).

I think the real problem is that the Prophets should have as much intrinsic moral authority to Sisko as Q does to Picard -- which is to say, none, until they demonstrate otherwise. Now, Picard does come to...almost trust Q, over the series, to recognize that there is something of value in the lessons Q imparts. But the tension remains between this and his recognition that Q is dangerous. His movement on Q has everything to do with Q bringing knowledge and wisdom that Picard comes to understand is valuable by testing it out and thinking about it. Sisko does start incredulous about the Prophets, and then moves toward credulity, and a lot of that is that they demonstrate that they can use their awesome power to provide security and illumination. It's not a wholly skipped arc. It's just that the big questions -- why did the Prophets not save Bajor during the Occupation? -- don't get asked by him.

I think the point about parental authority is a good one, which again suggests the contrast between the Vorta/Founders relationship and the Bajorans/Prophets. In some respect, there is another bit of mirroring, in that Sisko's eventually joining in the "Celestial Temple" and even discovering that he is part Prophet, as well as finding himself worshipped by the Bajorans, mirrors Odo's story, where Odo eventually joins the Great Link. Odo's acceptance of the Weyoun's worship in "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" has some similarities to Sisko's coming to accept Bajoran worship of him, at least to a degree, and to use that power when he thinks he needs to. Those parallels are interesting, but I think that for the series not to follow through on the fact that Kira's faith is just as blind as Weyoun's and not to ask why the latter's is clearly wrongheaded (because the Founders are the bad guys) and the former's is...well, at best the series takes a neutral position on it.

I wonder if a Sisko:Bajorans:Prophets :: Odo:Vorta&Jem'Hadar:Founders comparison leads to any other points of similarities.
Mon, Jan 12, 2015, 6:45am (UTC -5)
That's a very cool point about how later seasons have Odo very uncomfortable with the power he has over the Vorta/Jem'Hadar in a mirror of what Sisko went through with his role as emissary. And how they both ended up being one with those Gods and will have to deal with it later. I never picked up on that, but it's an interesting parallel.

And yes, I think I agree with you. Forget about why the Bajorans worship the prophets or not (Bajoran are as complicated as any other group of people... Opaka is a true believer, Bareil seems to be more grounded in his faith, Winn is wielding the name for her own power, Fala from "Covenant" does blame them for the occupation... etc.) it really doesn't matter.

"Bajor" might be a "character" on this show, but that's not a fair thing to ask a show to explore the faith of an entire race. But Kira is one of our mains (and the first officer even), so to give a character that strong kind of faith, make her Gods an important part of the show and then not really ever test her faith is.... a flaw for sure.

In truth, Kira is nearly always rewarded for her blind faith.
William B
Tue, Jan 13, 2015, 2:07am (UTC -5)
I had never thought of the Sisko/Odo comparison before I started writing that last comment! I think it is really cool and it's something I want to check out more of. I think I am probably going to do a DS9 rewatch with my girlfriend now that we're done TOS, but I'm not positive. I will watch out for Sisko/Odo material.

The point about Kira is basically what I was getting at :). And it's not that I think religion needs to be questioned for all characters, but it's such a big part of the show (and such an unusual kind of "religion" nonanalogous to certain aspects of human belief) that I think that Kira's faith in the Prophets needed to be examined. Some episodes went somewhat toward it, with her realization of the complexities surrounding Opaka, or "Accession," but it just didn't go all the way.
Brian S.
Tue, Feb 3, 2015, 4:53pm (UTC -5)
Rather than this episode being about religion (though it is to a certain extent), I saw Sisko's visions as being on par with Lt. Barclay's enhanced intellect from the TNG episode "The Nth Degree."

In that episode, Barclay encountered a probe from an alien civilization of significant intelligence that endowed him with extraordinary mental abilities no human had never experienced before and was somewhat reluctant to give up.

Here in DS9's "Rapture," Sisko consults with an orb (a probe) from an alien civilization with significant knowledge who endowed him with extraordinary mental abilities to comprehend time and the universe in a way no other human had experienced before (granted, the accident caused his visions, but Sisko had enough encounters and contact with these extra-temporal aliens that it seems plausible that the shock triggered something to allow him to explore the universe beyond normal linear time).

Like with Barclay, Sisko was flooded with this knowledge. And that flood was both beautiful and dangerous. It was hard to process it all at once, but both had a feeling that something special was happening to them and that they had to explore it. If I suddenly had the ability to see the universe outside of normal space-time, I would be desperate for more, too.

The Bajorans might have viewed Sisko's experience as a spiritual one through the lens of their own religious faith....but I saw it as an intellectual pursuit. An exploration of knowledge and the limitlessness of the mind. Sisko was right. When you get an opportunity--a gift--like that you don't just walk away from it. You study it and explore it.
Wed, Mar 4, 2015, 12:34am (UTC -5)
Oh Brian S your assessment of this episode is right on the money. Many times reading this I was tempted to comment on the religious comments but, I didn't. It made no sense. It was the accident that triggered the visions and I believe the aliens gave him the knowledge he needed or was compelled to explore.

It seemed to be a good thing, since this information saved Bajor during the war.

I love your explanation without trying to explain your beliefs or disbelief of religion and not stepping on ones toes who do believe.
Mon, Mar 30, 2015, 11:40pm (UTC -5)
It is explicitly stated that one can have an Orb experience months or even years after the initial encounter. What were they called... orb flashes? In any case, it is possible the accident triggered and/or enhanced one of these flashes; starting the visions.
Sun, May 3, 2015, 12:13am (UTC -5)
After watching this, I flipped back to Season 2 of Babylon 5. This is almost like an episode of Babylon 5 made around the same time, a certain foreshadowing of the future by the lead characters from a very powerful "mystical alien" power (Vorlon vs. Prophets). I get how the two series have comparisons between each other, because it actually has merit in this area at least.

The Locusts obviously represent the coming Dominion war, going to Cardassia foreshadows the destructive nature that such things will bring to Cardassians, nearly resulting in their destruction.

I wish they could have continued on pushing this path in the series, trying to blend religion, war, and science all together into a cohesive storyline (the next attempt was horrible). Too bad Bajor never joins the federation officially in the show, a major point of contention I would have wished they'd resolved at the end of the Dominion war.

The "non-canon" trek novels however do give me some solace that at least in one version of history Bajor will join the federation.
Tue, May 5, 2015, 7:52pm (UTC -5)
@ Jammer: I'm also interested by the allusion to the coming war with the Dominion. (Could the "locusts" perhaps have been a Dominion strike, with Bajor being the first Federation casualty?

You were correct in one aspect the Locusts "were" the Dominion, as for Bajor, the Captain saw to it Bajor stayed out of the fighting. Now every time I see the Dominion come out of the wormhole I think "Locust" in the deepest voice I can muster up. lol
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 1:45am (UTC -5)
Ok, this might come off as a bit of rambling nonsense, but I'm having trouble keeping it straight in my head(I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of the history of Trek in my head to fall back on), and I'm hoping one of you might help me in this regard.

The Bajorans believed in the prophets well before proof of their existence (the discovery of the wormhole). I can see how this, coming almost immediately after suffering 50 some odd years of Cardassian oppression, would galvanize their beliefs.

The prophets, once the wormhole is discovered and their existence confirmed, don't seem to understand our existence as linear beings(Sisko tries to explain it to them in the pilot). It almost seems to me that they could be seen as discovering us at this same time. If they could not understand the concept of linear time, it is quite feasible to me that they would have no understanding of what it is to worship something, and thus would not understand the Bajoran worship of them, which could help explain how uninvolved they were in the Bajoran existence(why they didn't prevent the Cardassian occupation, for example). So the whole Bajoran/Prophet relationship could be seen as the Bajorans worshipping a power they can't quite comprehend, and the Prophets using them(and Sisko) to try to understand an existence they can't quite comprehend.

As the series moves on, the Wormhole Alien prophets, through more interaction with our linear existence and Sisko as the Emissary, come to understand us more and thus get more involved in what is happening around them(like destroying the Dominion fleet).

Now this doesn't entirely explain why the Bajorans began worshipping the Prophets in the first place. I also don't remember if there's anything that happens later in the series that would prove these ideas wrong. Like I said, just wanted to put it out there. If it's rubbish, so be it. Just needed to get it out of my head :)
Sun, Jul 12, 2015, 4:26am (UTC -5)

You seem to be applying linear time standards to the Prophets, which is natural since that's how we all exist in the real world. But remember - the Prophets exist outside of linear time. Therefore, to apply "our" concepts of the flow of time to them isn't fair. It's entirely possible that from the perspective of linear time, the Bajorans started worshiping them only for the Prophets to later learn about the Bajorans through Sisko. All the while it would make perfect sense from their viewpoint.

The Prophets themselves somewhat explain this in the episode "Accession." When someone from the past appears and claims to be the Emissary, he and Sisko go directly to the Prophets to find out who is the true Emissary. The Prophets say that Sisko is indeed their Emissary even if the other guy "discovered" them first. They even say "they are linear; it limits them." Or, as Doc Brown would say - "you're just not thinking fourth dimensionally."

That might be a cop-out for the writers who, by their own admission, didn't really think that far ahead when they introduced the Prophets in the pilot episode, but I think it makes sense.
Sat, Aug 22, 2015, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
Rapture is by far my favorite Season 5 episode.
Sun, Dec 27, 2015, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
I mostly agree with Jammer's review. Some of the non-regular actors weren't great, and some scenes (like the one where Sisko dispenses fortunes) don't come out quite right, but the positives here far outnumber the negatives.

Some comments:

-Government-run holodecks malfunction all the time. Oftentimes it seems the sole purpose of having holodecks on starships is for them to malfunction. Nobody's ever put in jail. So of course when the one privately-owned holodeck in Star Trek malfunctions, people immediately want to press charges! The writers appear to be making the usual Ferengi joke that capitalism is bad, but the franchise history of holodecks completely undermines the point.

-Lost in the "religious discussion" above is the fact that this is one of the few times in the series when the prophets/wormhole aliens directly help the Bajorans (through Sisko's visions). Knowing what happens later in the series, Sisko's vision did keep Bajor from destruction. Their faith might not have saved them from the Occupation (although it is possible that some prophecies enabled them to keep it from being worse than it was...we have no way of knowing with the information given to us), but it did help them at this point in history.

-Kai Winn, as Jammer & others pointed out, was interesting here. She appears to be a true-believer. Like many people who believe in a religion, she previously believed that her specific interpretation of the religion was correct. This endowed her with a sense of self-importance, moral superiority, & the belief that she is right to take any means to achieve her ends (since they coincide with the prophets'). However, here she had her interpretation of belief pretty much actively disproven, something nearly all believers in Earth religions do not experience*. The actress does a good job portraying a character who's trying to reorient herself after losing her central tenets. Her faith in the prophets remains, however, and she decides to follow Sisko, since she now fully accepts his "chosen" status.

Or you could believe the character herself never had faith in the first place & her outward "loss of faith" is really a cynical gambit to establish herself as a Sisko supporter, since there will likely be few Bajoran believers who don't now accept the prophets speak to him directly. This interpretation is hard to believe, as the character Winn never had any great ability to hide her feelings before.

-Winn had a line in this episode: "Major, the Cardassians arrested any Bajoran they found teaching the word of the Prophets". It caught my attention because I think William B. recently brought it up dissecting Winn's character in a previous episode. There must be some truth to this, or Kira would immediately disagree with her. However, it doesn't completely line up with what we know of the Occupation. In "The Collaborator", Odo names Prylar Bek as "the liaison between the Cardassians and the Vedek Assembly". This implies the Cardassians recognized the religion, but were trying to control it.

I'd interpret Winn's comment as hyperbole. It's likely the Cardassians arrested people who preached that the prophets wanted Bajorans to revolt, and/or there were periods of time when the Cardassians did try to arrest everyone who preached the native religion, only to ultimately decide it wasn't worth it. Either way, Kira would understand it's an overstatement & Winn likely was imprisoned, but we shouldn't take the sentence as 100% accurate.

*All the big religions nowadays avoid making any predictions that can be disproven. This helps cut down the crises of faith.
Tue, Dec 29, 2015, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
Teejay above had questions about the prophets. You can't really consider our ordering of time when trying to understand them. I tried explaining this on the discussion of an earlier episode, but I've thought a bit more about it since then. Here are a few possibilities:

1) They truly have no linear time in the wormhole. If this is true, then they experience every moment moment simultaneously, and their existence is really hard for us to comprehend. Sisko pops through the wormhole explaining the idea of "linear time" which they already knew because it's the same instant they've always lived at & always will; the prophets sent the orbs through the wormhole at the exact same instant; the prophets also were having the discussion with Sisko from "Accession" at the exact same instant; everything else also was happening at the same instant for them.

You can't say they did one thing, then did the next; it's all simultaneous to them.

If this is true, then the Pah-wraiths are in the wormhole even after being exiled to the Fire Caves on Bajor. There isn't any before and after inside the wormhole, so if they're there at all, they're always there. If they're banished, they're always banished. So both are true, I suppose; it's all Quantum Mechanics.

2) They actually do have a form of time (although not our time), it's just not apparent to them until Sisko shows up. They had a completely static universe of their own, where nothing ever changed. Without change, there was no sense of time. Then, one day, Sisko pops through the wormhole into their reality. This is the first change of their environment and introduces the idea of time to them.

If so, this inverts traditional creation myths. Normally, the universe is static (a great void, a great sea, whatever), then a god or gods introduces change. Here a universe of "gods" is static until man (Sisko) introduces change.

Note, they still exist outside of OUR time. Once Sisko draws their attention, they can examine any instant of our time as they like. To them, our universe is like a book. They can open our universe to year 1 (page 1 of a book) or year 100000 (page 100000 of a book), so while they're doing things in an order to them, it may not be the order we experience it.

Anyway, for our wormhole residents:
--at (time=0), everything was as it always was
--at (time=1), Sisko appeared
--After (time=1), all the other actions the wormhole aliens would take before, during, and after the series happened in some order. We don't know what order they happened.

My version of their history would go like this: there was a great dissension over what to do with the new knowledge of time among the wormhole residents. They mistrust our universe, which they never really noticed before, probably seeing how powerful we'll eventually become*. "Prophet Motive" happens early on, as the episode shows them still learning about us. Alarmed by the bad humor the Ferengi represent, the disagreements between the wormhole aliens becomes open conflict**. They divide into 2 camps, the "prophets", and the "pah-wraiths". The prophets win & imprison the pah-wraiths on Bajor. Of course, if the pah-wraiths had examined the history of our universe closely enough, they would have known they would lose.

With the pah-wraiths gone, the prophets take a more active role in our universe. They decide to ally themselves more closely with Sisko and take actions at various points in history to ensure everything turns out right for him. You can decide they're being benevolent and mostly want to help Bajor (through Sisko), or you can decide they're being selfish and mostly want Sisko in place to protect them from the pah-wraiths should they break free of the fire caves.

I link this way of thinking about the wormhole residents. It's easier to understand than the first way, it fits with mythic storytelling, and I like the idea that Sisko's encounter in "Emissary" was with both the prophets & the pah-wraiths. I don't think it quite fits all their dialogue in the series, but it explains why they act somewhat inconsistently.

3) The wormhole aliens are misrepresenting themselves and are more like the Q than they claim to be. They always understood time but are claiming otherwise for their own reasons.

* According to TOS, races eventually "evolve" into powerful non-corporeal beings
**I'm mostly kidding about bad humor being the cause of the conflict!
Tue, Dec 29, 2015, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
bleah, typos:

"I link this way of thinking about..."

should be:

"I like this way of thinking about..."

There's also a few more obvious ones.
William B
Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 12:34pm (UTC -5)
I am way behind and if I want to keep up at all I'm going to have to write shorter comments. We'll see how that goes. But if Jammer can post seven Star Wars reviews all at once, I can probably write a paragraph....

Sisko's condition in "Rapture" can be interpreted either religiously or secularly. Obviously he interprets it in the former way, but as others have pointed out above, in a lot of ways what Sisko goes through is not that different from Barclay in "The Nth Degree." Part of the problem is how to interpret it. If he really is going through a Barclay experience, at a certain point he maybe should be relieved of duty at least until it is clear what is happening to him (ala the crew's worried reaction to Barclay once it was clear what was happening). And if he's having a religious experience, well, maybe he should also be asked to step down from duty for a day or two until it's clear what's going on with him. I'm often unsure what to make of the Prophets on this show, but it's worth noting that this episode is actually pretty ambivalent about Sisko's transformation -- he is given insights into finding B'hala and he also is (SPOILER) correct in his locusts visions, but he also totally loses sight of Jake and seems willing to die so that *he* understands what he's seeing, without quite considering that if he dies he can't exactly communicate what he sees to others. I think the use of Kai Winn here is pretty great. Not only does she demonstrate that she really is a true believer in the Prophets and changes her mind on Sisko once he demonstrates that his Emissary status is no mere accident, *Sisko* suddenly starts trusting Winn to guide is visions. "You trust her? Since when?" asks Jake, his voice cracking with sadness. The truth is, Winn hasn't changed; Sisko has, and suddenly he needs a religious zealot the way he hadn't before. Winn encouraging Sisko to push himself further, and risk his death, is a nice callback to "Life Support" where she did the same for Bareil, and this time we see that Sisko is fully on board with it, and even encouraging it. In any case, the grand scale religion vs. politics material in the episode falls flat for me in that I don't really think that religious prophesy works the way it does with Sisko here; there seems to be some "following one's (religious) conscience vs. following one's duty" material here, but it's a false argument, since if Sisko really is getting visions from the future people should listen to him, or at least there can be an actual discussion about how trustworthy Sisko's interpretation of his visions is as a matter of policy. On a character level Sisko making a definite choice to honour his visions over his Starfleet obligations is a major step. Part of the reason I wanted to write about "The Visitor" before I wrote about this is that Jake once again is put in the position of having to decide whether to save his father, and the direct opposition between Sisko's connection to the Prophets and his actual *son* is highlighted. It's resolved for now with Jake's actions, but it's by no means over, especially since it was not the choice Sisko made or would have made. I don't really know how to rate this one, which I think is effective as drama and has much to recommend it but has some elements I'm not sure about; maybe 3 stars.
William B
Tue, Jan 19, 2016, 12:46pm (UTC -5)
OK, I can't actually resist writing more, as it turns out:

I guess the issue with Sisko's prophesies is this: Sisko believes them to be absolutely true, and part of that is that he is imbued with some sort of "faith," partly from his acceptance of his Emissary status in "Accession" and partly because part of whatever happened to him with that electric shock/orb aftershadow/whatever is this kind of obsessive certainty. So there is, for him, no "debate"; he knows with certainty the things he knows. That he might be wrong, that maybe that guy whom he told to leave because he doesn't belong there might actually have a different idea of his life for instance, does not occur to him, or if it does he ignores it. That kind of absolute certainty that he is right is scary, and is also some of what aligns him with Winn, who is a great reminder of the problem of believing oneself to be right at all times (in her case, to the point of seeing murdering the opposition as ethically justified). And that also is part of what distinguishes him from Barclay, who, after all, could not actually see the future but merely developed superintelligent insight. In any case, it really is a kind of religious fervour that convinces Sisko that his visions must be right, and again this does not really map well onto human experience where someone claiming they had visions for God would be rejected from office, one hopes. In his case the Prophets are real, and it seems the visions that they give him, or that are stimulated in him that connect to the Prophets in some way, seem to genuinely be prophetic, but that still leaves open the question of whether the Prophets should be trusted, and thus whether it is automatically necessary to follow whatever their dicta are.
Diamond Dave
Wed, Jan 20, 2016, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
This spins off in an interesting and perhaps unexpected direction, but I still found it difficult to get on board. And in all honesty I don't really know why. Certainly Avery Brooks' idiosyncratic performance drifts way out towards crazed prophet levels. It all seems just a little by the numbers.

What I did like unambiguously was Kai Winn, and the nuance brought to her character beyond that which we have seen previously. "Locusts" indeed. 2 stars.
Fri, Apr 15, 2016, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
I'm not going to try to impose my religion on the Prophets, but we believe that the concept of time was created by God, but the concept of cause and effect exists outside time. In this way the Prophets can be outside time and still experience cause and effect, just not necessarily in the order we perceive them.
Tue, May 3, 2016, 11:35pm (UTC -5)
"'Rapture' is about as perfect an episode as I could hope for."

Indeed! This might very well be the best of series thus far.

I suppose I should start my rundown of how awesome this episode is with the fact that it absolutely obliterates Trek's usual rational materialism right off the map. Okay, sure, Sisko's visions are started by a rather mundane (and easily explainable) malfunction in the holosuites, but that simply does not explain the total, 100% accuracy of these visions. There is no way a random power surge like this can explain how he finds a city lost for 20,000 years, or how he can know about the Admiral's family problems, or how he can foresee the coming war with the Dominion, or how he can deduce that Bajor must remain independent in order to emerge on the other side of the war unscathed. These definitely are visions and they are decidedly otherworldly or - dare I say it - supernatural. Even Sisko himself holds this view. When the Admiral practically begs him for a secular, materialistic explanation, all he can say is "it really was a vision." And yet, like so many treatments of religion here on "Deep Space Nine", all sides are given equal treatment. Whatley, the stand-in for the secularist/atheistic viewpoint, is not made to look like a fool. Kira's open religiosity is not mocked. The magnificent scene in Ops with Kira and Worf defending faith and O'Brien and Dax defending skepticism explores rather profound differences of opinion - which exist even among our main characters - and yet tolerance, actual true tolerance, is the name of the game. BRAVO!

Second, "Rapture" is a stellar outing in the characterization department. Everyone's character is utilized perfectly. Sisko, Kira, Jake, Yates, everyone is at the top of their game and completely acting in character. But, of course, the real stand-out here is Winn. Her transformation from a semi-antagonist to a possible, reluctant ally is superbly handled. And it fits with her established character from at least as far back as the Bajoran Trilogy in Season Two - when she turned on the attempted coup for reasons left unexplained.

Third, there's the family dynamics between between the Sisko family, including Yates. One the many wonderful things that "Deep Space Nine" did was humanize the main characters by giving some of them families. Sisko is a family man. O'Brien is a family man. Quark has an important relationship with his brother and nephew. On TOS, aside from Spock in "Journey to Babel" (probably not a surprise that it's my favorite TOS episode), none of the characters are given any familial ties. Oh sure, we met the wife and son of Kirk's dead brother in "Operation -- Annihilate!", but is anybody seriously going to count that? On TNG, Picard was a loner who hated kids and only slowly softened to them over time. Riker was a ladies man. Data manged to get some development with Lore and Soong. Troi had her mother but was never close to her. Crusher and Wesley were mother and son but their interactions (certainly family interactions) were extraordinarily few and far between. The closest we got was with Worf and Alexander, but even then there wasn't much. But here, the dynamics between Jake, Ben and Kassidy are extremely well written. Jake wants to understand the spiritual journey Sisko is on but is still just a kid who doesn't want his dad to get hurt. Yates, another skeptic, naturally sides with Jake. Sisko, while he feels it's necessary to see this journey to its conclusion still does everything in his power to comfort his son and girlfriend, like any good person would. Even the dynamics between other characters and the family work wonderfully. For example, another reason the scene in Ops works so well is that Kira and Dax, despite having diametrically opposing opinions, know that they will both be there emotionally for Jake and Yates if things go bad. The amount of love and sympathy on display is astounding. If only we could duplicate this in the real world when discussing politics and religion; the world would undoubtedly be a much better place.

Fourth - the mythology. The way "Rapture" handles so many different story arcs is astonishing. There are no less than six different arcs that come together here - SIX! There's 1.) the "Sisko as Emissary" arc, 2.) the quest for Bajoran admittance to the Federation, 3.) the Dominion arc, 4.) the Sisko family arc, 5.) Kai Winn's arc and 6.) the Maquis arc - tangentially, through the return of Yates to the station after her prison sentence. Each one is handled delicately and with wonderful success. Just focusing on the Dominion arc, the level of foreshadowing here is unprecedented for Trek. We get references to an upcoming war with the Dominion, a "swarm of locusts" heading to Cardassia, and a revelation that Bajor must stand alone in order to survive the coming calamity. Obviously the locusts represent the Dominion annexation of Cardassia. Jem'Hadar ships do look an awful lot like bugs, don't they? And the revelation that Bajor must stand alone is naturally a foreshadowing of the Non-Aggression Pact Sisko has the planet sign with the Dominion. All of this foreboding will come to pass by the end of the season. It's damn impressive and a wonderful use of the Prophets (without actually showing them on screen). There's also, more mundanely, the new uniforms (first established in "Star Trek: First Contact") which ties the series to the larger franchise.

Granted, there are some nitpicky problems with the episode. For instance, given what we later learn in "In Purgatory's Shadow", Bashir has already been replaced by a Changeling infiltrator by this point. That means that the Bashir Changeling was the one who performed the life saving brain surgery on Sisko. He must have been really prepared for his role! And there's the rather unnecessary scene of Odo man-handling Quark for a non-crime. There's also the scene where the Admiral and Winn are going to formally induct Bajor into the Federation, before Sisko stops them. Where the hell is Shakaar?!! This is one of the most important moments in all of Bajoran history - and that's really saying something since the Bajorans were producing literature and culture before Humans were even standing erect! And yet their political leader doesn't bother to show up?!! I'm assuming that Duncan Regehr's schedule prevented him from appearing again, but damn. At least the rest of the Bajoran delegation makes since - a mixture of civil and religious officials, which adds to my belief that the Vedek Assembly plays at least some role in Bajor's civil government. But the Federation delegation makes no sense at all. Where the hell are the representatives from the Federation government?!! Apparently they only sent one (and his aide) because the rest are all Starfleet admirals. Why is the U.F.P.'s military so heavily represented while the civilian government isn't? Or did Leyton manage to launch another coup on Earth from his prison cell without the audience being told about it? Still, these are all rather trivial problems that don't ultimately harm the episode.

The ultimate conceit of "Rapture" - that we live in an ordered universe and that you can access that order in a moment of religious ecstasy - and the open acknowledgement of the supernatural represents a very dramatic (and welcome!) departure from Trek orthodoxy and puts the episode in the running for "best in the franchise".

Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
I can't belive how this mockery of secularism and reason could possibly get a perfect rating. This is just lazy writing. The whole time the Prophets were just "Wormhole Aliens", and their artefacts granted insight into the future or oneself. Now, suddenly, they can magically imbue Sisko with the power to see EVERYTHING with absolute certainty. Or did they? That is not explained. Kira suspects that Sisko has a Vision from the Prophets, but that is just that, a suspicion.

For four and a half seasons, Bajor was on the verge of joining the Federation. That would of course have consequences. So, why even bring it into play here if they don't join anyway? To keep the plot alive for another two and a half seasons of course. This episode is completely pointless. Sisko, a man of reason, is suddenly a fanatic. Is it explained in the end? No. And seriously, locusts? A biblic plague, of all things? Not much imagination there either. I was fine with the treatment of religion in this series before, where Sisko sees the Wormhole Aliens for what they are, Aliens, and the Bajorans build their weird cult around it, but it was always clear that the Prophets don't really care about Bajor, because they don't even understand time. So how can they possibly be concerned with worldly matters? It was just an accident that their Orbs would grant visions. A technical error, so to speak.

But this episode turns DS9 into some religious fantasy, the hope that you can gain knowledge through "visions", and that if you believe in shit that shit turns into reality. That is the complete opposite of what TNG and Gene Roddenberry wanted to show. So I can only hope that his spinning in his grave becomes so powerfull that he creates a time line distortion that eliminates this episode from official canon.

And yet it was so simple to save this episode: At the end, just explain what happened. Maybe it really were the prophets who suddenly took an interest in bajor, maybe it just was a crazy scheme to keep Bajor out of the Federation. Something. Like the episode where Odo relives his only mistake, when he sentenced innocents to death.

-2/10, would look down again on the writers in disgust and agony again.
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 7:00pm (UTC -5)
PS: Since I cannot edit my comment here, a double post.

To all the people that are so elated that "Religion is treated with respect!": Well, look to the middle east for a place where religion is "treated with respect". Look at the people that kill hundreds of innocents in the name of God to see what "treating religion with respect" leads to as a final consequence. Respect has to be earned, and it can not be demanded, and when you grow up, they don't call it "Age of Reason" by accident. It is because you have to quit believing in Santa Clause and your imaginary friends and grow up, instead of daydreaming all day and imagening things.

And if you feel that I am offensive, or not sophisticated or understanding enough: This is what my God Sauron told me, so dare you not to speak ill of me, for it is my religion demanding me to say those things, and I find it deeply deeply offensive if anyone disagrees with me on such matters, and I might, just might, bomb the shit out of all you infidels so that you suffer for an eternity in a daily soap, where every day the same jokes are told and the canned laughter of the fake audience may haunt you for eternity.
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
Sure, be lazy and blame religion for everything. Easy way gets the best results right? Nevermind that religion is just as often used as a reason to start wars that are in actuality about resources or land.

Furthermore sweeping generalizations never make the person saying them look like a total dingleberry with emotional issues.

Let's also not forget that redusing complex issues like religion and its relation to reason into a simple black and white, good vs evil conflict is definitely not a majorly close-minded, absolutionist thing to do, which as one arguing for reason, surely doesn't make you seem to be a flaming hypocrite in regards to a conflict over two things that clearly are mutually exclusive.

Hey strawman! You forgot your hat! And while you're here, recall that the Prophets or Wormhole aliens are ethereal beings with the ability to see all points in time, and that, as a serialized show, DS9 would very well provide some answers about this later. Also recall that DS9 is a show which lives to show grey, hard to resolve conflicts that Must inevitable result in trying to find co-existance between the two sides so they can work towards moving past that conflict. Which to me, is quintessential Star Trek.

As for Roddenberry's vision, I've never heard a more fanwank load of trollop. Roddenberry's Star Trek would've started with Mudd's Women as it's jumping off point. The vision of Star Trek was not created by one man with questionable morals, but by the many people who worked on and wrote for the show, building a world of cooperation and acceptance (to an extent) of a myriad number of cultures and beliefs, even if we don't fully understand them.
Mon, Jul 18, 2016, 9:22pm (UTC -5)
Well said, Nolan. Also, let's try not to forget this show isn't specifically dealing with *any* Earth religions, but to the concepts of faith and the supernatural as they might exist in the possible future. While yes, contemporary religion wrestles with these concepts, they can also exist a secular world (i.e. faith in a philosophy or belief in powers beyond human capability).

To apply secular reasoning to this episode, one might simply interpret that as much as Sisko wanted Bajor in the federation, some gnawing piece of his subconscious picked up on the real possibility that being in the Federation would put Bajor in danger. Benjamin didn't need the visions to see this per se; he was already aware of the danger of the Gamma quadrant and the Dominion's ambitions for defeating the Federation. The visions just serve to punctuate Sisko's unique frontier experience, which the Federation politicians lack.
Peter G.
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 12:46am (UTC -5)
Agreed with Nolan and Chrome.

@ Void,

I guess since "All Good Things..." was about an advanced being giving Picard visions of the past, present and future TNG must also be a stupid anti-Roddenberry religious show, right? ;)
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 8:08pm (UTC -5)
Oh, didn't notice I blamed religion for everything. I thought I had pretty specific examples (Middle East Clusterfuck, Suicide Bombers). If you correlate that with yourself, that's really not my problem (@Nolan). But hey. Besides, that was a comment commenting on the commentors, not the episode (@Chrome).

@Peter: No, that was perfectly fine. Picard did not have unexplained "divine" visions, Q did it. I guess you already know that, hence your ;) smiley, so, I won't elaborate.

@Nolan: Oups, rustled some jimmies, hm? Now I have emotional issues, how cute that you know me so well. And I find your first sentence especially agreeable, with you aknowledging that religion is all to often used as an excuse to start a war. Well, not exactly the strongest point to make for religion, hm?

But if you look closely, I don't even attack religion. I attack faith. I have no problem with the Bajorans and their funny rituals, or the Klingons, for that matter. Now that I think about it I may as well should have, but it is mostly tradition, and traditions are really a different can of worms than religion. I don't find them particulary interesting, but hey, to each his own, right? What I do have a problem with is a show like DS9 wanting me to accept that Sisko magically knows the future. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the Wormhole Aliens communicated through their orbs, right? So how can a holodeck malfunction turn Sisko into a blind believer? Acting completely against his character? You have to explain those things. Just show me Sisko with a white background and some Wormhole Aliens telling him "Yo, better don't let the Bajorans join the Federation Sissy" and I am fine (if Sisko acts a lot more like himself).

But that is not what happens, and I don't care if it is explained later. Kira just says "you had a pahk tem pha (?), a holy vision. The prophets chose their emissary well" or something like that. Thats it. Thats the whole explanation for everything. And for me, something like this does not belong in an episode of Star Trek. Especially not with Sisko acting like a religious zealot, leaving everything behind for his new found faith, even being willing to die for it. Without even as much as a shred of doubt. Call me close minded if you want, but I am afraid of people who have no doubts.

And now to the "Religion is a complex issue" thing: Well, is it? Is it really? You want something to be true, and persuade yourself that it is, and then its true! Or is it? Religion is not complex, it is simple, thats why it works. If it was complex or hard, most people would be to lazy to accept it, but they aren't. At it's core, religion is like a videogame. You get points for good behaviour and penalties for bad behaviour, but you can always be sure that there is indeed a right way, and that you always get another chance, and no matter what you do, if you make some right descisions, in the end, you get the happy ending. This does not sound complex to me. Granted, priests and "scholars" of all ages have made it seem more complex, shrouded it in mystery, written great poetry and created great art in its honor. But one simple fact remains: It is all made up! It is right there in the description: "Supernatural" means "outside of nature" hence unknowable. And then you get people who tell you THEY know whats UNKNOWABLE. Don't you see the contradiction? And everybody has his own interpretation of the divine truth. Well, if it is indeed divine truth, shouldn't it be obvious? Shouldn't it be eternal? But it isn't. Why? Because we humans made it up!

And about the "Fanwank": Well, I did not talk about all the people contributing to Star Trek, I talked about Roddenberry being a staunch atheist. And I think he would agree with me that he would disagree with this episode.

So no, I am not generalizing, or at least not in the way that you think. But I know why you think it. :) I am arguing that reason and faith are mutually exclusive. Faith by definition defies reason. You can only have faith in things for which there is no evidence. If there is evidence, then no faith is required. Reasoning is apllied to evidence. Without evidence, no reason. QED. This episode provided no evidence whatsoever, yet wants me to just accept it. And with that I take umbridge, for this simple reason: If you start acting without evidence to support that action, at some point, you become really dangerous. For yourself and for others. I will let you work that out for yourself. :)

And one final notice, while I am at it, and I obviously have time to spare: I have no problem with grey areas, or people coming to an understanding, overcoming differences. But thats not what this episode is about. Kira working with Gul Dukat to find the remains of some missing people, thats people coming together, in one way or another. Kira forgiving Odo (or at least that's implied) for killing innocents, and Odo losing his perfect image, thats grey and a real issue. Sisko poisoning a planet to arrest a single Terrorist: Oh boy, thats not grey, thats dark. But this? Please. This episode is showing people moving apart because somebody had a vision. I rest my case.
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 10:51pm (UTC -5)

By being disrespectful to other commentors and ignoring the episode you're really doing a disservice to your point (it's also disrespectful to Jammer).

When you're ready to discuss the episode with me civilly, let me know.
Peter G.
Tue, Jul 19, 2016, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
@ Void,

So let me get this straight. When Q (an alien) gives Picard visions, that's ok sci-fi according to you, but when the prophets (aliens) give Sisko visions, that's stupid religious nonsense coming from a divine source? The irony of your position on this is that you are calling the prophets divine, which actually means you're a religious believer like the Bajorans. I can certainly say I don't think the prophets are divine. If anything Q is far closer to the prophets to being divine, to the point where he jokes with Picard about being god, and it's not entirely out of the question that he is (or the closest thing to it). He certainly has power over time and space, and life and death. By the standard of divinity as we humans know it, "All Good Things..." is closer by far to satisfying your standard of a divine being who gives the star of the show magical visions to help him. I think you've bought way too much into the mystique the show gives the Bajoran religion when you assume they're right that the prophets are divine and therefore DS9 involves religious events. It's just aliens doing advanced things. TOS had countless occasions of far more godlike activity than merely giving someone visions.

As a side note, your pithy tautology about reason and faith being mutually exclusive may sound good to you on the basis of tidy axioms that you can string together, but let's just say that a philosophy department would not accept 'logic' of this sort. In point of fact the premise that reason and faith exclude each other is completely false, and such a premise betrays a deep misunderstanding of the place of reason within most faiths. Unfortunately it takes some years of study to realize why this is so, and requires real investigation and learning about what the faiths actually teach, rather than strawman versions of them that pop culture likes to toss around. I can't explain it to you better than this because there is no short sound bite that can detail how religions structure their beliefs. You'd have to be interested enough to find out for yourself, maybe by asking some experts on the subject (sans sarcasm). If you think you've got the entire matter QED solved in one short paragraph that should be enough evidence to anyone with intellectual integrity that the solution is BS.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 3:50pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome: What, now I am disrespectful of the commentors? I thought I was disrespectful of religion. I wasn't the one calling people emotionally unstable. I argued that certain things are unacceptable from my point of view, if that is offensive to you, I am sorry, but I am not attacking anybody as a person. And I am not ignoring the episode, I've seen it a few days ago, thats why I wrote my comment. I know whats shown and what is not, and I know why I don't like this episode, and I think I explained that. You say that you can interpret it in a secular way, but I find that difficult to do when the religious interpretation is so much closer to what is actually shown in the episode.

@Peter G: No, as I said, I take umbridge with the fact that in this episode it is NOT shown that the Wormhole Aliens gave Sisko the Visions. If they were shown doing it, that would have been fine, as I wrote. To qoute myself:

"@Peter: No, that was perfectly fine. Picard did not have unexplained "divine" visions, Q did it."

As I said, I don't care if it is explained in a later episode, then that later episode gets the credit, but this one is still shit.

And honestly, I don't understand where you get from that I think the Wormhole Aliens (WA) are divine. I said this episode makes it look like Sisko gets a divine vision. Not "Sisko gets visions caused by the WAs". If I'd meant that, I'd said that. So, I really don't understand what you mean.

I try to be more clear this time:
This whole episode makes no attempt to explain Siskos visions, as no cause is shown for them. It could have been anything, Pah Wraiths, Mental Issues, Saboteurs, Kai Vinn, whatever. But there is NO EXPLANATION. Kira just says "You have a divine vision", and THATS IT. Now she may be right, maybe it were indeed the WAs giving Sisko the Visions (I think maybe from this part you get that I think the WAs are divine? That's not the case. Kira thinks the WAs are divine, therefore I can make the connection that she means the WAs when she says divine). But that is not shown in this episode. Therefore, Siskos whole act comes off as the ravings of a madman drunk with "Holy Visions", a complete 180° turn of his character, and UNEXPLAINED.

And about my "pithy tautology": If it's a tautology in the philosophical sense, it's true, isn't it? So please, tell me why it is not acceptible for philosophy? Why isn't it logical? I think we agree on the definition of faith and reason, don't we? So why isn't it logical that things mean what we agreed upon that they mean? As I said before, I am not attacking any specific religion, I am attacking the concept of faith. So I don't care what religions teach about faith and reason, because I think that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. If you can prove that to be untrue, please try, but for that you have to change the meaning of the words "faith" and "reason" I think.

Of course you can argue that one can apply reason within a fiction, like "Sauron did this and that, therefore this and that (in that world)". That still does not make it true, however, and does not permit you to say something like "Sauron said "Enslave all free people", therefore we have to go to Japan and enslave them all because they are free". That would be completely insane, because you take the fiction into the real world. In the same way as Sisko is portrayed taking his fiction into the reality of DS9, and acting upon it. And in this sense you can not apply reason to faith, because faith belongs to the realm of fiction, and you can not act upon a fiction (or at least you should not).

And just a final remark, why can the obvious and simple explanation not be true? Again, I am not critisizing specific religions, I am critisizing the portrayal of faith-based-action in this episode. I am not trying to solve complicated processes within religions, I am saying "faith and reason are mutually exclusive", nothing more, nothing less.
Peter G.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 4:02pm (UTC -5)
@ Void,

You don't seem to to understand that it's *your interpretation* of the episode that Sisko was given so-called "divine visions." The show never says so. Kira might say so, but who cares? So your entire objection is based on something you, yourself, made up. I never saw anything 'divine' about the visions; that's your interpretation of it, which is fine, but has zero basis in any facts presented. As to the fact that the origin of the visions is never given an explanation, give me a break. It is 100% obvious from the minute go that they were from the prophets. If you think this was in doubt then I would suggest you missed the point.

LATER ON we're given reason to be concerned about our certainty that Sisko's vision was from the prophets, in episodes like "Covenant" and later on "The Changing Face of Evil." But back in season 5 we're given no reason to believe that visions come from any other party than the prophets.

Remember, you are the one who claimed Sisko received "divine visions." The show doesn't make that claim, Sisko doesn't, and in fact it's not true, even on the basis of this episode alone regardless of what came later. You can't accuse the show of introducing something that, in fact, wasn't introduced and that only you have decided is what happened. That's why I compared you to a Bajoran believer; you'd have to be if your takeaway is that Sisko received divine anything. The only arguably divine event in DS9, to whit, in when Q visits the station.

As for reason and faith, no, we do not define reason the same way. I won't elaborate on this point further, but suggest that if you're actually interested in this you can read accessible sources on this such as Chesterton or others who discuss such matters. Or you can read some good apologetics if you like that also discuss matters such as reason and faith. In many religious circles there is no "vs." between reason and faith; that's a fiction made up as a strawman. Btw a tautology is something true because its own internal premises say it is. When an argument is called "tautological" that's another way of saying it's a circular argument, backed up by its own made-up axioms. Your argument about religion is about as QED as the famous tautological argument that God exists because the Bible says so and God wrote the Bible.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:00pm (UTC -5)
Aaaah, now we are getting somewhere.

Yes of course it is my interpretation of this episode that they are "divine visions", because, as you said, there is no explanation for them. For you it is obvious that they come from the Prophets, for me, not so much, because on all previous occasions the prophets only communicated by means of Orbs or inside the wormhole (well, there was one occasion where there was some kind of "echo" from previous contact with an orb, but even then, his visions were clearly be shown to come from the prophets). So I immediatly got suspicious, and when nobody tried to stop Sisko and he acted like the way he did, and nothing was explained at the end, I took away from the episode that Sisko acted without evidence and the shred of a doubt, and the whole imagery and acting screemed "Religious Extremist" to me. And apparently thats fine, because Sisko is still supposed to be the protagonist, isn't he? You say we are given no reason do doubt that the visions come from the prophets, I say we are given no reason to even think that they come from the prophets. That's why I call them "divine", because they are unexplained, and for me it seems obvious that they were supposed to be unexplained, and the episode was supposed to show that there is such a thing as the supernatural.

But at least we can agree on which points we disagree now regarding the interpretation of what's shown in this episode. I think that this episode was lazily written and they way things were shown were not to my liking.

Please, just elaborate. I really want to know what you think.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Addendum: I still don't really get your comparison with Bajoran believers. I said "divine visions", and meant "unexplained visions who look like they are supposed to come from some form of god". Sisko seems to be having a religous Eureka-moment, and he is supposedly understanding everything while gleefully accepting his own death in service to something supernatural. I shortened that to "divine visions" because that is how divine visions are portrayed. Does not however mean that I am in any way, shape or form believing in such things, it is just that this episode used so many tropes assosciated with religion and faith that interpreted it that way, and not the "Super Advanced Aliens seem like magic" kind of way, because those things usually show the Aliens or explain it in such a way at the end.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
*last sentence: "... tropes assosciated with religion and faith that *I* interpretad it that way ..."
William B
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
I'm not wading into real world stuff right now.

On the source of the visions within the episode: I largely agree with Peter on this...but I see Void's point. For the most part, as far as I can recall, all episodes before Rapture were consistent in having the WAs only interact via the wormhole directly, and indirectly through the Orbs, which are themselves ambiguous -- it is unclear whether the Orbs actually contain deliberately imparted information from the WAs or operate by a different physical process, using a combination of advanced tech and the user's own brain to bring about visions, and, as of Trials and Tribble-ations, time travel. Most orb experiences seem to be dominated by the thoughts of the user, but somehow it seems as if ancient Bajorans could predict the future, presumably via the Orbs, either indicating that the WAs can communicate through the Orbs or that the Orbs can show the future, and specific images therefrom. Why not. The pagh wraiths can possess people who enter the Fire Caves. But they have no established nonlocal abilities.

I do think the WAs gave him the visions and this always struck me as self-evident, and not a big leap from the level of power the WAs have to construct the wormhole and Orbs. That said, it's not given a traditional explanation nor is there much in the way of...reaction to the change in paradigm of how WAs can act.

I also think it's ambiguous whether the WAs are directly giving Sisko the visions or have "unlocked" or "added" some sort of non linear time ability within Sisko, and I suspect it's this one, though I think that the WAs are behind the initial electrical surge which started this process. The surge came from a data rod which was a scan of the painting. So it appears that somehow the painting contained information to zap the Emissary to give him visions, which is weird but not totally different from the probe in The Inner Light in function, or the library array giving Barclay the brain boost in The Nth Degree.
Peter G.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 6:48pm (UTC -5)
The moment we establish that the WA can construct a means of instantaneous travel (the wormhole) and also live outside of time it becomes fairly evident that their abilities aren't limited to just sitting in there and giving out advice. It's established right from episode 1 that the wormhole is artificially constructed, meaning whoever did that possesses very advanced technology/abilities. Since the WA are non-corporeal in the vein of TOS my guess would be 'abilities', although one way as well call those technology since practical implementation of one's knowledge of reality doesn't really make the distinction between technology and abilities very relevant.

Also regarding Sisko's ability to find B'hala, William B may be on to something when he suggests that the knowledge was already in Sisko and this unlocked it temporarily. Or maybe Sisko was always linked in some way to the celestial temple and the surge broke away his corporeal resistance to feeling that connection. It's hard to say either way. But one thing is clear, which is that the episode was using this as an opportunity to tell the view that Sisko being the Emissary was more than just being chosen as some messenger for the prophets. He obviously had a deeper connection to them than that, and so if the events of "Rapture" seem unprecedented...well yeah, that's the point. I agree with William, though, that more of a big deal could have been made about this. Kira's pithy reply about it being a holy vision didn't really cut it; we could have used a line from Sisko about how the prophets may have had more in store for him than he previously realized. Because the show had to be dramatic they put a lot of screen focus on Jake and Kasidy being concerned for Sisko's health, which is understandable but it's true I would have been interested to hear a word or two about how this mean the WA could do stuff other than just sit in their temple and chat through orb intercoms.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 8:51pm (UTC -5)

The foundation for secular interpretations of the Prophets are scattered throughout the series. Indeed, they're originally classified as alien lifeforms by the main Starfleet characters. Now you can say their powers are similar to popular Earth religious lore, which was certainly the writers' intent, but DS9's writers were always careful to leave the door open to scientific explanations.

Moreover, whereas Earth religions believe based on spirituality and faith where true proof doesn't exist, Bajor's so-called "Gods" have interacted with the Bajoran sector so often that their existence is scientific fact. You want to meet the Prophets? Go to the wormhole. Even Grand Nagus Zek can do it. You want to meet the Christian or Muslim God? It's not that simple. This is a huge difference to me.

I think this also undercuts Kira and Worfs claims of "faith" to a degree too. Is Kira merely acting on faith, or is the fact she's seen dozens of Prophet devices like orbs and glowing artifacts that she believes in them?
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
To add to my previous point: Whenever Sisko interacted with the WAs before, he remained himself. He argued with them, interacted, but did not change his character on a whim. That's why this whole episode does not make sense. It never explains itself. They could have used the usual way of showing Sisko interacting with an Orb, or the WAs, but they didn't, so I have to assume that they had something different in mind, and as Peter pointed out, in later episodes there is even cast doubt about the origin of the visions. So, why did they chose to present this episode in this way? I think it's because Roddenberry was dead and the show wanted to attract another kind of (American) audience. But that is just wild speculation.

Yes, those events are unprecedented, but the problem is, they are not explained. Whenever the WAs do anything, we have to be told that they are doing it, because it is impossible to tell otherwise.

The Wormhole aliens are the most abstract things imaginable.They aren't even aware of time, supposedly. That makes everything far more complicated, for it is impossible for us to explain anything about that. Experiencing all of time at once is like experiencing no time at all, and there is no causality anymore. If the future is the past, a future effect may cause a past action, or the other way around, in short, nothing makes sense anymore. So they should not even be able to communicate with Sisko, because that requires them to understand his actions, but if they see everything at once, nothing makes sense to them. Sisko speaking to them only makes sense if they understand the words (universal translator solves that one apparently) and understand the order the words are spoken in. But if everything happens simultanioulsy, nothing happens at all, because everything ends the moment it begins. The whole concept of "happening" is meaningless in that case.

So, apparently thats not whats happening, because we see the WAs interacting with Sisko and the Dominion fleet for example, so something different but still completely strange is going on. But that still has to be explained by the writers, because it is impossible to decide if the WAs can or can not do something.

@Peter G.:
I am still waiting for your definition of reason, if we differ on it. My definition is what Wikipedia says, whats yours? You seem to be fine with my definition of faith, "Belief in something for which there is no evidence or proof", so lets go on from there.

You say the "vs" of reason and faith is made up, I say it is there by definition, and I explained why, I think. Of course religious people don't want to think of it that way, but logic dictates otherwise. The only truly meaningful information is based on fact, not fiction, and facts have to be backed by evidence. Faith by definition excludes any evidence, ergo, it is meaningless. And tautologies aren't necessarily circular arguments, either. "You are either dead or alive" is a tautology, but no circular argument. Of course, there are a few assumptions that everybody has to accept, even though they can not be proven, like "We do exist". We can't proof that either. But aside from those basic assumptions, no faith is required.

So please, elaborate a bit more on your point, and explain to me where my logic broke down, because I don't think it has.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 9:36pm (UTC -5)

Sorry, hadn't seen your reply while I was typing.

And I am glad to say that I completely agree with you.

My point was that I did not see Siskos visions as interaction with the prophets, but something completely unexplained, that I thus termed "divine vision" for lack of a better word. I don't know why all the other commentors see it as self-evident that his visions came from the prophets, because the episode never made that clear, and given that Star Trek knows many seemingly omnipotent beings beside the prophets, and usually explains where things come from, this struck me as completely off. Thus I assumed that they were indeed ment as some kind of truly religous unexplainable visions. I think I tried to explain that in previous posts, but it seems I did a terrible job.
Peter G.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 10:52pm (UTC -5)
@ Void,

I'm still not sure what you're hung up about. In previous episodes Sisko was communicated with the same way as everyone else - orb experiences and cryptic statements. This is the first time he's getting a different kind of information, so obviously he's going to behave differently. This time he doesn't have to try to decipher what the WA are saying or decide whether or not to do what they say. This time he's seeing things as they see them. From what the episode shows us he gets a glimpse at non-linear time, and yeah, no kidding that will make you act differently. It's pretty damn easy to know what you're supposed to do when you've already seen yourself do it in the future. In fact, that is one of the primary topics of considering for the first two Dune books; what happens to a man who can see the possible futures and choose one?

Here Sisko only gets glimmers and so has to make do with the few insights he picks up from his visions. This gives him just about enough info to find the city and save Bajor from a bad treaty. The rest is shadows and suggestion.

I agree with Chrome that the factual presence of the WA's makes this more or less a sci-fi issue to do with a strange new race. It's no surprise that a primitive people would bow down to advanced aliens, but the interesting question about faith in this series isn't about whether it makes sense to 'have faith' in the prophets. The real question is whether to trust them entirely. After all, their powers are factually there. But what do they really want? That's a question I'd like for the show to have asked at some point. Still, I think it's fairly evident that they want what's best for Bajor, or at least something like that within certain parameters. They seem to have something in common with Federation ideals in terms of not overstepping too much, so from that standpoint they should probably have earned some trust by now from the Federation. Regardless, I take any question of "faith" brought up by the show to be chiefly a matter of whether one has faith in the prophets' good intentions; maybe even to an extent in their ability to really manipulate the timeline that effectively.

And no, I'm not going to get back into the 'reason' issue. I told you this isn't a subject to be broached in a forum like this. William B was right to sit this part of it out, and although I wanted to make a brief statement on the subject I'm stay out of it from here on in. No philosophical issue can be addressed or resolved through tidy little assemblages of self-referential axioms. That's not learning, it's just talking.
Wed, Jul 20, 2016, 11:28pm (UTC -5)
I explained that already. I am hung up on the fact that this episode never made clear that Sisko got his visions from the prophets. If it had, I'd have no problems with it. But it isn't. You say it's obvious, I find it highly doubtful, given what the episode has shown and how previous episodes handled the prophets. I am hung up on the fact that this episode played out like some religious fantasy, and I stated my reasons for why I think so.

Well, thats the point, there is no faith required to believe in the prophets, they are testable. Where the faith part comes in is when, for example, the other emissary whos name I forgot told the Bajorans that they should return to their caste system and people started killing one another. He made that up, based on what he thought the prophets wanted from him. Kai Vinn does it all the time. The existence of the prophets requires no faith whatsoever, and neither do clear instructions from them.

Well, thats sad. I thought talking and thinking about things and trying to find meaning is what philosophy is all about. And since when is talking with one another not learning? And don't you start your arguments with axioms, and go off from there? But I guess you really don't want to talk about it, fine, but I honestly don't understand why not.
Sat, Aug 20, 2016, 10:40am (UTC -5)
The religious/mystical aspect did not bother me. The prophets are an alien race that know the future -- even without understanding that it is the future -- and have the power to communicate in various ways with other races, including by sending visions. Sisko is himself (oops -- spoiler) a wormhole alien.

That does not make the wormhole aliens gods, it makes them a race that happens to have knowledge that other species don't have.

I don't think the series ever addresses whether that makes them good or evil or neutral. It seems like they are generally nice to Bajor in an intermittent, fairly passive sort of way, like we might be nice to a pet hamster.

I liked the treatment of Kai Wynn in this episode. I particularly liked when she said they should go ahead and vote without Sisko. She might have come round to believing he's the Emissary, but that doesn't mean she's not going to take every opportunity to aggrandize herself.
Thu, Sep 29, 2016, 1:47am (UTC -5)
Even back in 1996 I just went with the concept that his visions were from the prophets. They can see past present and future (without knowing which is which until Sisko explained time to them), so it is quite easy for them to give him a vision of something in the past, or warn him of something in the future (Bajor joining Federation = locusts heading to cardassia (dominion) destroying them as opposed to the non aggression pact they got to sign as an independent planet).

Bajor would have been obliterated when war broke out as they would have been target #1. Their independence allowed them to sign non aggression; which is what the prophets seem to have wanted Sisko to know.

Any being that is unexplainable can be looked upon as a god. That doesn't make them a diety. The prophets are not dieties, they simply had devices (orbs) that ancient Bajorans could not understand and it gave people visions and so forth and they became a religion . When science and discovery caught up, society doesn't let go of that faith so easily (same as with our religion), even if you can debunk any notion of someone being a god.

All of us would be gods if we went to 5000 BC somewhere, had our iphones, laptop, some movies, MP3 player, power generator, you name it..... we could do all sorts of tricks and before you know it someone in leadership is writing about us and 500 years later we are mythical gods and a religion is born.

There are no actual gods. They are constructs by sentient beings to solve various needs, mysteries, goals, or desires of faith. Anything can be created as a god if enough people buy into the message, some books are written, and a thousand years pass.
Tue, Nov 1, 2016, 10:45am (UTC -5)
"New uniforms in this episode. They suit DS9 (ha ha) a lot better than the old ones. I think they get a mention at the beginning of the episode, but otherwise I'm always a little surprised by how underplayed the transition is. The Starfleet uniform is so ubiquitous, it just seems odd that this didn't get a little more discussion. "

I know what you mean. You'd think the characters would comment on wearing new stuff (especially Bashir when he gets back from the Internment Camp, actually never having worn this style uniform before that). I think we get more references to the Bajoran uniforms being itchy than anything about the Starfleet uniforms... ever.

Ironically, "Bashir" here asks Sisko, "Does my uniform look brighter today?", when he's just gone from wearing bright blue to dark grey this very episode!

And Sisko's uniform here was a mess. Think he needs to sack his seamstress, or at least his replicator. It looked really bad with the commbadge on the too large grey area and it's just bulky with the thick red shirt, waistcoat and jacket on altogether. I was just waiting for a Bajoran to shout "hey everyone, here's our Emissary. He can't even dress himself properly!"
David Pirtle
Wed, Nov 23, 2016, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure I would have given this 4 stars, but I'm shocked by some of the very negative reactions. I don't know why people have a problem with Bajoran faith being a part of this series. The pilot episode laid all the cards on the table. If, like Bashir and Dax, you prefer to think of the Prophets as meddling aliens who live outside of the flow of time, you can do that. If, like Kira and Work, you prefer to approach the issue from a faith perspective, you can do that as well. I'm not a faith person myself, but it can't be denied that faith is one of the most important aspects of our society, and it's no less worthy of examination than any other, and by examination I don't mean just dismissing it as barbarism.
Tue, Dec 27, 2016, 9:31pm (UTC -5)
If not for Sisko getting indignant at Quark in the teaser, it apparently would have been Quark that saved the program and therefore got hit with the energy blast. I guess the prophets work in mysterious ways...
Sat, Jan 7, 2017, 4:34pm (UTC -5)
Why didn't Sisko just say "Computer save program"? No cloud storage in Quarks holosuite? Gotta use a flash drive in 2375 I guess.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 11:11am (UTC -5)
Tough one this. I did enjoy the episode, really enjoyed the performances and loved the way it tied all the series narratives together. In fact for me, this is the moment when all the seperate strands of the series start coming together for the more serialized nature of Series 6 and 7.

However, I have little tolerance for religion and even less tolerance for when it starts to get waved around as a magic wand. Religion is a faith in something that isn't provable and requires a belief. It exists because it is entirely unprovable, that's it's power. Created because people are scared of dying and they WANT to believe in something more. In the context of DS9 we KNOW the wormhole aliens exist, we KNOW they exist outside of linear time so the past and future is all the same thing to them. I never saw how with this knowledge, an intelligent species would still worship them as gods. I also never understood why the Bajoron's weren't all flying shuttles into the wormhole to have a chat with their "gods".... I mean it worked for Quark.

The writers clearly wanted all the mumbo jumbo to sound deep and profound but all they've done is look at future scripts and thought "let's call the Dominion locusts" - job done. If there was a better reason for the visions than an exploding console, that would have helped - say the destruction of an orb or an incident in the wormhole.

Anyway, enjoyable enough but not without flaws - 3 stars
Peter G.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 11:23am (UTC -5)
@ SteveRage,

I think it's very simple. A sufficiently advanced being or technology will invariably appear to be godlike. You may cynically say "well we're intelligent enough to know they aren't *really* gods, just super-advanced." But that would presuppose you have a working definition for what a god is or isn't that can be applied against such beings. But since you say gods don't exist you therefore cannot have such a definition. In other words, you don't have words of adequate descriptive power to discuss the prophets, or the Q for that matter. If someone decided to worship the Q, for instance, as gods, I would be very hard pressed to tell them "those aren't gods!" Because why the heck aren't they? They may not be 'the original creator', whatever that means, but that's an entirely different can of worms. The Bajorans never claims the prophets created the universe, so objecting to worship of the prophets seems to entirely miss the point of what worship actually is, and what its proper objects should or shouldn't be.

You might suggest you, personally, wouldn't worship a being that could literally re-write the future to suit you, but damn, I think a whole lot of people absolutely would. If that's not a godlike power then I don't know what is.
Steve Rage
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

Perhaps you're right. I tend to assume that once you have amassed the intelligence to master faster than light travel, you would have amassed the intelligence to stop being sheep. Once you understand there is other life in the Universe and some of that life would naturally be more advanced than you, you would stop worshipping anything you don't understand just because someone told you to several thousand years ago.

You see there is a MASSIVE difference between what you describe as a godlike power and being a god. One is an incredible power and the other does not insist. Funny how when we look back through history the only two things that require unconditional worship and obedience are gods and dictatorial tyrants. Both had a thing about controlling the masses.
Peter G.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 10:51am (UTC -5)
"You see there is a MASSIVE difference between what you describe as a godlike power and being a god. One is an incredible power and the other does not insist."

What, exactly, is this difference? Are you saying that the only possible 'real god' is 'THE god'? That there is no such thing as 'gods' in the plural sense? I speak, of course, in the science fiction sense when I ask the question. How can you define what is or isn't a god? Related question: have you read Dan Simmons or Stanislaw Lem? Both are sci-fi authors that have addressed whether there is necessarily any distinction to be drawn between a sufficiently advanced godlike being and God proper.

It seems to me that your beef isn't so much with whether there is such a thing as a god (something you realistically can't prove) but rather with the idea of worshipping such a being. Even if you were informed with certainty there was a god of some sort that existed, it sounds like your position is that you would be against worship of that being on principle. Which, as I mentioned earlier, brings up the question of: what is worship? I think this term is one that is oft misunderstood.
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 11, 2017, 11:32am (UTC -5)
It is a very Judeo Christian outlook to presume that any "god" is necessarily omnipotent and the creator of the universe or else false (by definition).
Sun, May 7, 2017, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Sisko tweaks out on futuristic amphetamines, discovers a lost city, and can see the future. For once, Brooks' acting is appropriate as a human (Klingon and meth-head human seem to be his wheelhouse).

Bashir doesn't know benzos and downers exist, and sees radical surgery as the only way to save him. On top of that, he has an order from Sisko not to operate, but lets Jake over-ride it for some reason.

No Keiko + very little Worf + appropriate level of Sisko over-acting + decent story = 3.5 stars.
Sun, May 7, 2017, 11:57pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I liked this episode a great deal. But one of my favorite moments was never discussed:

Banner unfurls...

Worf: Welcome Klingons?

I just thought that was a nice Quark moment. :)

Now what is he going to do with all that root beer?...

Have a great day... RT
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 1:38pm (UTC -5)
One of the most moving episodes ever.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 10:27pm (UTC -5)
I expected some anti-religion comments for this episode but it makes me wonder how Trekkies or Trekkers themselves are doing when it comes to that positive vision of humanity Gene Robbenberry envisioned? Seems like far too many comment threads on Jammer's Review turn into pissing contests. Shouldn't we be more evolved than that?
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
This episode makes me wanna give up on DS9. Before it was suggested that the Prophets might just be aliens and Sisko was sceptical. Suddenly he's getting visions and believes wholeheartedly in the Bajor religion. Does this mean that Wolf's religion is incorrect? I've never liked the Bajor episodes and instead prefer Gene's future vision where there is no religion. Of course if Trek was truly representative of the future there would be practising Muslims everywhere, as there's no way Islam wouldn't still be around. Trek should stick to science with everyone getting along, without religion. On another note, Avery was overacting again in this.
Peter G.
Tue, Jun 20, 2017, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
@ SC,

Gene's vision isn't that there is *no* religion in the future. It's that people think for themselves and make their own choices, and respect each other regardless of which choice they make. IDIC =/= 'no religion'.
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
Dagger of the Mind: Mentions a Christmas party

Balance of Terror: Wedding in the ship's chapel

The Ultimate Computer: M-5 says murder is contrary to the laws of man and God

McCoy: Always spouting "What in God's name?"
Fri, Jun 23, 2017, 12:55pm (UTC -5)
The other part of Gene's vision for the future was rejecting materialism. Odd that Star Trek conventions and comic-cons tend to be orgies of merchandising. Many fans don't seem to get bent out of shape about this. Mr. Roddenberry certainly didn't have a problem with merchandising and yet we have a continent of plastic floating in the ocean.
Sun, Jun 25, 2017, 3:42am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!


But is it Star Trek plastic? My thought here is they are making certain plastic is used up, by turning it into collectibles that would be saved for years on shelves, and in old trunks... until our Mothers get rid of it... :D

Yes, we should be more evolved (as Trekkers/Trekkies). I've seen comments on these pages that makes me believe we have not come as far as we think we have.

Good comments on the original Star Trek and their mentions (or implied) of a Greater Deity.

McCoy also said "In the name of heaven, where are we?" in the Squire of Gothos. There are probably more... A quick search revealed:

SCOTT: "Captain, thank heaven..." Obsession
SCOTT: "Then may heaven have helped your mother." The Corbormite Maneuver

Even if some in the 23rd/24th centuries are pure atheists, the use of god (small or big G) or heaven should still be in the language. And when their Star Ship is being blowed up real good, they would still call out to... something... to save them. It's instinct. My opinion of course on that.

Just some thoughts... RT
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 1:52am (UTC -5)

Star Trek plastic for the win. lol
Thu, Jun 29, 2017, 2:46am (UTC -5)
@R.J. I'm onboard with that, rejecting materialism. I have no plastic collectables and I prefer the more minimalistic lifestyle seen in the crew's quarters. Whenever we see the Captain's room he / she only has the essentials.

As for religion, it's too simplistic to say respect everyone's beliefs, what if that religion is trying to take over the world with outdated, harmful ideas? Should we just sit back and accept it?
Mon, Jul 31, 2017, 11:21pm (UTC -5)
So, this episode follows the pattern of the book of Joel in the Old Testament. Here is a citation of the locusts metaphor (which represents a prophecy of an invading nation in both cases): Joel 1:1-7: 1 The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.

2 Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?

3 Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.

4 That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.

5 Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.

6 For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.

7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
Tue, Aug 29, 2017, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
The worst episode since move along home. Almost everyone acted out of character and they just played along with sisko who was obviously having some mental issues? The whole thing felt contrived and undue respect was given to sisko's visions. The admiral was the only one acting with any sanity.

Tue, Sep 5, 2017, 11:12pm (UTC -5)
o all the people that are so elated that "Religion is treated with respect!": Well, look to the middle east for a place where religion is "treated with respect". Look at the people that kill hundreds of innocents in the name of God to see what "treating religion with respect" leads to as a final consequence.

Spot on. You can name any fact about Islam and it's disastrous effect on humans... and it will be excused by some people. Religion in general is closed minded and the opposite of reason. It always has been. But it's worse when the prophet being followed was a murderous war-lord.
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 3:26am (UTC -5)
Well, I count no less than five different logical fallacies in that brief comment alone. "Slippery slope", "black or white", "false cause", "composition/division" and "anecdotal".

Well done.
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 9:10pm (UTC -5)
Interesting episode with a number of subtleties but I don't think it's excellent. I think Jammer's review is too positive -- but I get the strong sense he values DS9 far more than other Trek series. I, for one, don't.

The episode touches on some of the central issues in DS9 and kind of reminds us of them since we've been absorbed by the Dominion arc. That much, I appreciated.

Quite a bit of debate it seems about religion and how DS9 represents it. I think it's fine that the Bajorans are the way they're portrayed -- nothing wrong with a very religious people, prophets etc. It brings a different kind of framework for an episode.

As for Brooks' acting here, I think this is one of his better episodes. Overall, I'm not a fan of his acting but how he acted in this episode worked for me.

Kai Winn is one character that bothers me but it was good to see her having some doubts now. She had some good dialog with Kira and Kira had that good faith dialog with Worf/O'Brien/Dax showing her Bajoran nature.

I think 3 stars is the right rating for "Rapture". I didn't find it all that compelling Sisko's quest for the lost Bajoran city, but his portrayal of somebody getting these visions and single-mindedly wanting to pursue them was good. The aspect with his surgery and needing Jake's approval wasn't exceptionally well done -- after "The Visitor" nothing will come close to being that poignant.

Will be interesting to see future episodes refer to some of Sisko's visions of the future, especially the locusts.
Mon, Nov 20, 2017, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
@Rahul-He doesn't 'value' DS9 more, it's just his favorite Trek series. We all have a favorite.
Sat, Feb 24, 2018, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
You got to be f*cking kidding me. Four stars for this religious piece of sh*t? May the prophets be killed by the dominion. Terrible episode.
Thu, Aug 23, 2018, 3:49pm (UTC -5)
I didn't fully appreciate "Rapture" the first time I watched it. I certainly do now. It is, in my opinion, the best episode in the first stretch of the season. Not only a harrowing exploration of blind faith, it's also packed with wonderful character beats and foreshadowing.

4 stars.
Wed, Oct 24, 2018, 5:11am (UTC -5)
3 stars very entertaining
Lost cities always has been intriguing to me
Debut first contact uniforms yeah ! I always hated the jumpsuits. The TNG and FC uniforms my favorite ones

Thought the scene odo arrests quark for failure to maintain holosuites cute one
Bajor joining Federation was exciting but kinda disappointed when he was a fake out although why it must stand alone at the time was intriguing

Winn telling Kira about how she fought the cardassians was a nice bit of insight into her

No jeopardy with Sisko dying but it didn’t hurt the episode so it’s all good

Intriguing Sisko seeking help from Kira although his crying was a little cringe worthy acting wise.

All said a good episode. Don’t see it as four stars though
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 10:48am (UTC -5)
I liked the lost city thing, and how that was handled.

The Emissary business is not my favorite and always bores me. This is no exception.

With the talk of locusts to Cardassia and Bejor being destroyed if they don't wait to join the federation, it feels like we're being set up for more and then more and then more of this, which is disappointing to me.

Ben very obviously values his Emissary role more and more, and more than his son. At the end, he seems to be . . . trying to subtly put Jake and Kasidy together, mother and son, so they'll take care of each other. He's got better things to do.
William B
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
@Springy, just curious: any thoughts on the Winn material in the ep? I thought that was one of the interesting things here, and I think Fletcher did a great job.
Thu, Jan 17, 2019, 11:00pm (UTC -5)
@William B

I liked the Winn parts very well, especially her confrontation with Kira, but also her move to accept Sisko as the Emissary.

Fletcher is great in the role, outstanding performance.
Wed, Mar 20, 2019, 3:42pm (UTC -5)
It was nice to watch this episode once again after many years (a DS9 novel prompted me to watch it to refresh my memory). Jammer's review is very fair. It's a multi-topic, multi-dimension episode and the writers pull it off in flying colors. The two dialogues between Winn and Kira add so much layer to the developments of both characters.

I can't give this a perfect rating myself only because I have trouble getting past some of the outrageous moments of overblown acting by Brooks whose lips tremble and each breath intake and outtake come in packs of 4 or 5 smaller sounds.

Random Thoughts is the only one to mention this, but the Klingon flag unrolling by accident and Worf and Quark's reactions were indeed a golden moment as RT says :)))
Sat, May 25, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
I don't think I disagree with any of Jammer's reviews more. My least favorite DS9 episodes are the ones focused on Bajor's religion. I found this one to be a snooze fest, with far too many inexplicable events that characters are just supposed to take on "faith."

This episode is not in keeping with Gene's vision of the future, which I've always found to be optimistic. It is not optimistic, but rather pretty depressing that hundreds of years from now, belief without evidence is held in such high regard. Especially given all of the nonsense that religious faith is putting us through in the present day. 1 star.
Peter G.
Sat, May 25, 2019, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
@ Adam,

There's no evidence that the wormhole aliens can see the future and have powers?

To me one of the most illogical things in this series is the continued skepticism on Starfleet's part that the Prophets *don't* have these capabilities, given all the evidence to the contrary.
Sat, May 25, 2019, 10:46pm (UTC -5)
"This episode is not in keeping with Gene's vision of the future..."

You mean the vision that lead to McCoy saying "if you're speaking of worships of sorts, we represent many beliefs" in "Bread and Circuses"?

Or the one that lead to the Enterprise having an area that was specifically designed as the ship's Chapel, complete with numerous religious symbols on the walls, an alter and a woman genuflecting before said alter twice in "Balance of Terror" and where Kirk's funeral was held in "The Tholain Web"?

Or the one which had Kirk saying "mankind has no need for gods; we find the One quite adequate" in "Who Mourns for Adonais?"?

Or the one which had Kirk saying "Daystrom felt such an act was against the laws of God and man" in "The Ultimate Computer"?

Or the one that lead to Spock and McCoy dropping biblical references so often that it would be pointless to list them all?

"... which I've always found to be optimistic. It is not optimistic, but rather pretty depressing that hundreds of years from now, belief without evidence is held in such high regard."

I've also always seen Gene's vision as pretty optimistic - that all people, atheists and all different religious types, could leave in harmony and just except each other despite their differences. It really is pretty depressing that so many atheists can't do that, instead wanting everyone to just conform to their way of thinking in one huge, civilization-wide group-think.
Sat, May 25, 2019, 11:09pm (UTC -5)
Adam’s right. Gene’s rolling in his grave over this episode. I can’t wait until Elliott rips it to shreds.
Sun, May 26, 2019, 7:39am (UTC -5)

Well, to be perfectly fair, Gene *as a person* most definitely wouldn't have approved of this episode. He had quite a big blind spot when it came to the topic of religion, which DS9 - I think - mostly handled in a mature and balanced fashion.

But I agree with you that this isn't really relevant. Roddenberry gave us this grand optimistic vision for an inclusive diverse future, and his personal anti-religious views are simply not consistent with his greater vision. We shouldn't be stuck with this inconsistency just because Roddenberry himself is oblivious to it.

"It is not optimistic, but rather pretty depressing that hundreds of years from now, belief without evidence is held in such high regard"

After everything we've seen the prophets do in the past 4 seasons, how can you call Sisko's stance "belief without evidence"?

The wormhole aliens exist, and they have an intimate relationship with Bajor. They also have a personal relationship with Sisko, who experienced it first-hand.

What more evidence do you want?

"To me one of the most illogical things in this series is the continued skepticism on Starfleet's part that the Prophets *don't* have these capabilities, given all the evidence to the contrary."

It's even worse than that.

Starfleet insists on completely ignoring a powerful alien species that has a close relationship with Bajor, WHILE THEY'RE TRYING TO GET BAJOR TO JOIN THE FEDERATION.

How does this make any kind of sense?
Mon, May 27, 2019, 5:04am (UTC -5)

Thanks for proving my point.


Exactly. Why is Roddenberry's personal viewpoint the only position that should matter? It amazes me that so many fans who lambast religion are simultaneously so religiously devoted to the dogma of Roddenberryism - i.e. "Gene wouldn't approve of.... fill in the blank." And it goes beyond religion in Trek. Capitalism/capitalists are shown in a semi-positive light? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! Conflict between the Starfleet and Maquis characters on VOY? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! Any questioning of any aspect of the "Roddenberry ideal" of early TNG? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! Any interpersonal conflict between main characters? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve! For crying out loud - children mourning the death of their parents (a.k.a. TNG: "The Bonding")? Can't do that, Gene wouldn't approve!

So, we're supposed to celebrate diversity, but we're also supposed to conform to the herd mentality. I just don't get it.
Mon, May 27, 2019, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
“Thanks for proving my point.“

If by proving you meaning ignoring, and by point you mean “face”, you’re welcome. 😉
Peter G.
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:00pm (UTC -5)
"Thanks for ignoring my face"?
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:06pm (UTC -5)
Excellent reading comprehension.
Peter G.
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:13pm (UTC -5)
I stand by my translation.
Mon, May 27, 2019, 10:17pm (UTC -5)
That’s fine. You’re using the word translation incorrectly.
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 7:04pm (UTC -5)
I have more mixed feelings about this episode than I used to and would put it closer to 3 stars. I generally really like Bajoran-centered and/or religious-themed episodes, but the mysticism goes a little overboard in this one. The long-term plot aspects are intelligent and deft (the locusts prediction, and Ben stopping Bajor from joining the Federation), but... yeah, that scene on the promenade where he can see everyone's future doesn't work. I also don't think the writing choices for Winn were correct here – her speeches to Kira about not having believed Sisko was the Emissary and no longer knowing who her enemies are are too expository and on the nose. There's no reason for Winn to spell out her thoughts in this way and in such detail.

What really makes this episode work, though, is the family focus – particularly the way Kasidy is brought back into the fold, and the bond we see between Kasidy and Jake. This corporeal counterpoint to the spiritual plot gives the episode vital roots and brings it down to earth, and is the right note to end the hour on. I also love that Kira strongly defends Jake's choice and his right to make it even though it wouldn't have been her choice.
Wed, Jun 5, 2019, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
I'm so mad, why couldn't they just go into the wormhole and ask goddamnit. It's not like it would've been the first time.
I love/hate how this series wants you to remember certain past actions and builds character development but has no consistency when it comes to anyones abilities/capabilities/tech or former solutions.

Am I missing something? Is this later solved and I'm foaming for no reason whatsoever? Am I retarded?
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 2:23pm (UTC -5)
When I was a kid, I loved The Real Ghostbusters. Like to-my-core loved it. Had the comics, the toys, watched all the cartoons. I knew those guys inside out. One year I went on holiday with my family, and we found this little gift shop which for some reason on top of gemstones and lighthouse garden decorations, had some real ghostbusters nick nacks.... except not really. They were knockoffs, with the 'busters fighting ghosts I'd never seen, with their proton streams behaving more like garden hoses, and the uniform colours just slightly off. Being naive to the idea of copyright infringing imports and unscrupulous gift shop owners, it weirded me the hell out, so much so that I remember it 30 years later.

I got that same feeling with this episode. Right from the off, Quark, during the banners and root beer segment, felt like knock-off Quark, doing sort of Quarkey things, but in a hokey, overplayed way, like it was a different actor trying to emulate the old one and not quite getting it.

Then we get the admiral guy, whose acting was so poor it made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion. If you have netflix, go to the timestamp with 17:59 remaining. Bashir says "nothing's going to change their minds". The admiral walks towards the camera, whilst looking into it, then does the absolute fakest "oh look there he is" turn, presumably as someone on set waved a stick at him. His body is stock still, not a grain of expression anywhere to be found. I start feeling like I am in an alternate reality.

Then we have Kasidy Yates, who is remarkably nonchalant and chipper for someone who just got out of prison, there due mainly due to the man she is dating. No resentment, no lingering change, just "whoo where's that jambalaya". Then when we get the scene where Sisko tells a guy "you don't belong here, go home", and the guy's emotional reaction has all the resonance of "oh you're right, I left the gas on didn't I". Was there an extras strike that week?

The clincher for the weird-out was the conversation about religion and faith in ops, which made me feel the same as when someone on the high street tries to get me to join a cult. DS9 always framed Kai Winn and the Bajoran religion as something odd that was accepted out of necessity, but this episode is saying "its all real". First, Worf's 'Sermon on the Platform' about a captain's faith being strong felt like a religious lecture, and then amplifying the weirdout was Kira's creepy turn to camera and faraway expression, stating "you're wrong, its everything" to Dax's "not much to bet your life on". Dax and O'Brien look about as disturbed, yet trying to be polite, as I would.

Sisko's visions reminded me of the ENT episode when Archer is being mind controlled by the alien offspring pheromones, and Malcolm relieves him of duty, except no one had the sense to do it to Sisko. This felt like "The Religion Episode" the bosses had been resisting all season. Surprisingly, the only character who felt right was Kai Winn, as at least she just played her usual manipulative, psychopathic self, if coming around to the idea of the episode, that we too are meant to accept, that Sisko is genuinely some messiah figure.

I don't know if being religious makes this episode more enjoyable, perhaps it chimes with a sense of faith if you have it, but for someone with none it just gave me that sense of "get me the hell out of here" dolly zoom effect I get when someone asks me if I have had my orgones measured lately outside the library.

In the end I never got any of the weirdo ghostbusters toys. They stayed on the shelf, in all their weirdness, next to a mint fudge and humbug selection.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 3:00pm (UTC -5)
.. and, no one's gonna mention the new uniforms?

Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 4:40pm (UTC -5)

I didn’t catch this one in the original run, and it didn’t get rerun very often so I only saw it after Netflix but I was also really surprised the episode existed. Maybe it’s partly because I know what will happen, but none of this episode really seems to add up to much except “Wow, Sisko sure can get away with a lot without being removed from duty.”

I’m actually religious too, but even on that level nothing really resonates here. It’s more like Sisko took peyote and tripped out for a few days and everyone knew about it so they humored him.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Sun, Jul 21, 2019, 5:13pm (UTC -5)

Thanks for the reply and its interesting to hear your take on it from a religious perspective.

In some ways I think it would have been easier to follow Sisko through this if he had been just a little uncomfortable with his position and abilities, say in a similar way to neo in the matrix. Neo does not see himself as "the one", but understands that people need him to at least play that role.

Judging from what you said, there is something of a reset button after this point anyway. I am glad, as I don't think I want to see Friar Sisko again soon!
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 11:08am (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington,

I always did like this episode, and part of it for me has to do with its argument that there are voices out there more important that Starfleet's. It's not that Starfleet Command is bad or anything, but their policy shouldn't be a religion. Since you mentioned the Bajoran faith, I thought I'd bring up that I'm not sure why you mentioned that it struck you as "something odd that was accepted out of necessity"? Their religion far predates the Occupation, and I'm not sure which necessity you refer to. Plus their 'gods' do, you know, actually exist. You may not want to join such a religion yourself, and the episode goes quite far to present arguments for and against faith in general (and to a narrower extent, faith in it specifically).

Sisko's behavior is understandably odd; you compare it to him being high, and it's not so far from that since he got his mind zapped by an ancient artifact. He is most definitely not quite the Ben Sisko we knew from before. But what's different about him other than his hazy state? The major thing is that he doesn't take it as gospel that Bajor must join the Federation ASAP, a point which sounds like sacrilege to his Starfleet compatriots and even to the average Trek fan. And I think that's completely deliberate: it shows how much on faith everyone took it that doing the good old Federation thing was definitely what Bajor needed. Maybe it was, maybe not, but very little effort was made in S1-2 to really address the question about whether it was best for Bajor or not. Sure, the military protection was needed, but joining the Federation is not *just* about having their starships defend you.

Fact of the matter is, the Prophets are another voice in the conversation, and they're saying now that Bajor must not join. Does that mean Sisko is off his rocker, or that there may be a point of view different from (superior to?) the current Starfleet one.

But I'll be the first to agree that I've never liked from day one how the Kasidy character is written and your objection to it here is completely warranted. They did absolutely nothing with that troubled backstory and basically pressed the reset button!
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 12:27pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

To be fair, I think I was the one to call Sisko high so I'll take the bullet for that. My problem is not about Sisko acting differently or being anti-Federation. One could probably argue, as you have, that Sisko isn't the typical Federation guy and he's a good ambassador for people who aren't drawn to typical Federation values. I remember in the pilot where Sisko totally strong-armed Quark into staying on DS9 and Odo says something like "And I thought I wasn't going to like him". This scene is illustrative of how Odo was expecting a typical Starfleet Officer to butt heads with, but when he gets an atypical one he finds some common ground. So absolutely, Sisko often works on that level and I have no problem with that.

My main beef is the Starfleet treatment (or lack of treatment) of Sisko here. This seems like the perfect opportunity for Ross to put his foot down and say "You need to make a choice between being a religious figure and being an officer because you have a conflict of interests here". Oddly (spoiler) this happens in a later episode - an episode where I feel like Sisko did the right thing and explained that he couldn't be on the mission for basically religious reasons - something I find completely acceptable. It's the lack of that sort of explanation to Starfleet that puts Sisko on the peyote trail for me here.

What's interesting is that, unlike Elliott, I do imagine Starfleet has exceptions for religious beliefs. I.e. in order for Starfleet to function that way it purports to function, it should allow people to practice their faith and respect their religious rights and holidays within reason. I'd like to see *that* explored, but well, maybe it was too controversial to be explored in the 1990s? I'm not sure, but it's a good conversation to have!
Peter G.
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@ Chrome,

What I would have liked to see isn't so much Starfleet as giving Sisko an ultimatum, as seeing an actual discussion onscreen about *why they can't* give him an ultimatum. The fact of the matter is that he has more power than they do in this situation and it's out of control to the extent that they literally can't dictate to their own officer what to do because any kind of interference will be seen by the Bajorans as sacrilege. In a funny way the admiralty has been 'prime directived' and forced not to interfere in whatever Sisko does with them. And yeah, I'd have liked *that* topic to be explored onscreen, about how we have an analog to Lieutenant Lawrence (i.e. "Lawrence of Arabia") where the British officer has gone native and is now such a player in the local politicals that he's almost a political force unto himself.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

My biggest problem with the episode was with the religion aspect of it. I agree, the wormhole aliens are real, and contact with them does grant insight, but the building of a religion around them seems a construction of the Bajorans. In TNG, characters who show up with godlike powers are always deconstructed, and Picard shows a refusal to worship any of them because "special powers" are almost always some facet of physics or technology.

The Bajorans on the other hand have vedeks, they use religion as a means of guilting and political control (especially Kai Winn) and of using "the will of the prophets" as a means to justify questionable actions. That the episode seems to feel like a recruitment drive for the Bajoran faith feels like a deparature from the "respect but don't join" attitude the Federation has always taken, choosing instead to engage with godlike beings on their own terms, without intermediaries, rites and so on that place expectations and controls on a population.

How do the Bajorans know it is in their own best interest to do what Kai Winn says on a daily basis, given her proclivity for self promotion and even acts of totalitarianism when given power? Do the wormhole aliens really care if the Bajorans worship them, or pray, or wear an earring? In general they seem to be oblivious to the fact.

Thats my major issue - the wormhole aliens exist separately from the Bajoran faith, which is a construct useful to a small cross section of Bajoran society to impose its will on another cross section. Coming from TNG it feels wrong for Sisko to become its messiah.
Mon, Jul 22, 2019, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

Definitely, that's a story that I think should've happened. There's is this sort of gap of information about what Starfleet thinks about the Prophets. Realistically, they must see that Sisko being the Emissary helps the Federation *sometimes*, and maybe allowing Sisko some slack is part of their plan to learn about Bajor. But without more, that's just speculation on my part.
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 12:55am (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington Mc Bob
Totally agree. Religion was always the weakest aspect of DS9 (and BSG) but this being an US show and the US being by far the most religious country in the western hemisphere (not counting Italy; in all the other major European countries less than half believe that there is a god) it is probably unavoidable.
In TNG it was portrayed like humanity had left religion and everything that it entails behind but the religious revival in the US of the late 80s and 90s started to undermine this, I guess.
That is why it made no sense to call it "the red angel" in Discovery. That was only made for US audiences. For people in Star Trek saying that would be like us seeing some phenomenon and calling it the "the mighty Ra". Most people in Star Trek wouldn't really know what an angel is (a western/middle eastern concept of a servant of a monotheistic god) or how it looks like. It is so dumb...
In DS9 the religious stuff gets really stupid...
But I don't want to spoil it.
Jason R.
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 11:36am (UTC -5)
Booming even stone cold atheists like me are capable of looking at something and thinking "angel". Many millenia after Greeks stopped worshipping the Olympian pantheon people today will comment that someone looks like a "Greek God" and it doesn't make them worshippers of Zeus.
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 11:50am (UTC -5)
I agree with Jason. Take also for example the Japanese who are notoriously agnostic and have no strong links to Christianity, yet they use religious symbols like Angels and Priests in just about every kind of media.
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 3:57pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R.
Sure. 50 years ago being christian was pretty much the norm in many Western countries. The greek gods are used in a few of our oldest stories: Hercules, Odysee, Troj. Without Homer we probably wouldn't know that much about them.
What do you know about the Titans and how they looked? Right. Nothing.
Or Vishnu or the Gandharva. Yeah, nothing.
Is it really that likely that an atheist society, consisting of dozens of species and many more cultures in 300 years would see an anthropomorphic being with wings and think: That looks like one of those helpers of the abrahamic god. What was it called again... yes angel" Burnham wasn't even raised on earth.
It was called red angel because it is an American show for western audiences and it sounds mysterious. In doesn't make much sense in Discovery or Star Trek.

Well, they have a pretty strong link to American culture for around 70 years. I believe that they also had a concept of angels through Buddhism (Tennin).
Tue, Jul 23, 2019, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
Booming wrote:

"Well, they have a pretty strong link to American culture for around 70 years."

Actually, they have a link with American culture for over 170 years, which is why baseball is popular over there. American religion, on the other hand, never really caught on.

"I believe that they also had a concept of angels through Buddhism (Tennin)."

Less than a third of the population is Buddhist. Your argument was that writers use elements to capture the heart of religious countries, but it seems to be the case that even countries with a non-religious majority enjoy such symbolism. I think you're missing the point that you can enjoy such imagery because - hey, it's interesting! - even if you don't believe in a higher power. I don't believe that Zeus is capable of striking me down with thunderbolts, but it's fun to imagine if such a being existed and what stories may stem from it.
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 12:43am (UTC -5)
" but it's fun to imagine if such a being existed and what stories may stem from it. "
That is all good. I don't haved a problem with using religious imagery but this is not about an actual angel. It is just a person in a suit even though of course that "angel" literally saves the galaxy. I just think that it makes no sense for a human first raised by scientists and then on Vulcan in an atheist society that is part of multi planet federation to look at something and the first thing that comes to mind is angel. Watch the trailer again. The word angel features very prominently in it. Even the word apocalyptic.
Do you think they included that because they thought: Angels and the Apocalypse are very trekkian concepts?
Jason R.
Wed, Jul 24, 2019, 7:04am (UTC -5)
"What do you know about the Titans and how they looked? Right. Nothing.
Or Vishnu or the Gandharva. Yeah, nothing. "

I have seen illustrations of the titans when I was a kid. Not to mention they have been depicted in several major Hollywood films. There was even a movie called Remember the Titans funny enough although it was about football ha. You could have asked me who Cronos and Rhea were when I was 7 and I could have given you a biography.

I have also seen illustrations of Hindu deities at various times in books and they have also popped up from time to time in pop culture. Oppenheimer quoted the Vedic texts when they blew up the first atomic bomb invoking an image of Shiva I think.

I don't pretend that any of these depictions (especially in pop culture) are accurate or authentic, but they exist and most people are aware of them without being Cronos or Shiva worshipers.

I mean seriously, you're an educated person and you never saw a picture of Cronos and had never heard of Vishnu? They may not be as iconic as Zeus (at least to westerners) but they're hardly obscure.

And yes if an 8 foot tall blue alien landed in my backyard I just might say it reminded me of Vishnu and give it that nickname.

The way I see it you imagine a future where human culture has been scrubbed of not just religion but even of religious imagery. I just don't ever see that happening, even in a Rodenberrian atheist utopia.
Fri, Aug 30, 2019, 6:38am (UTC -5)
@ Bobbington Mc Bob
„.. and, no one's gonna mention the new uniforms?“

I sure will (because I'm 12)! I've always liked having DS9 guys wear the same uniform TNG crew does in their high-budget blockbuster movies. I think it helps to give a sense of weight and stakes to what is happening, which would be important with the Dominon war. They aren't just little guys doing their thing, they are on the same level as the A-team.

I think people here are wrong to interpret the episode as unambiguously pro-religious or supportive or Sisko’s behavior. Prophets themselves never confirm if they talked with Sisko here. For all we know, even in context of the rest of the show, Sisko really just had a breakdown that made him see things that weren’t there, neglect his family and risk his own life and it just happened to work out in the long run. There is a reason this is all from the point of view of people around him and they have varied reactions to him.
Thu, Oct 17, 2019, 4:50pm (UTC -5)
I enjoyed thie episode a lot, but kept waiting for the inevitable reveal that Sisko was somehow being manipulated by anti-Federation Bajorans trying to prevent Bajor from joining the Federation. I still think that bee-yotch Winn may have had something to do with it.

Anybody have a list of all the DS9 episodes touching on Bajoran faith, the emissary, the prophets, orbs and stuff?
Wed, Jan 22, 2020, 11:05pm (UTC -5)
The thing that is fundamentally interesting about a story like this is what Jammer spends most of his review talking about - we know Sisko we’ll enough at this point that seeing a whole episode of him seemingly tripping out in the glee of cosmic knowledge is a worthwhile exercise, where it wouldn’t have been back in season 1.

And I think I felt after a rewatch that this kind of sudden spiritual-ish obsession is kind of scary and could be played more that way. At least we have the medical caveats here, whereas in Close Encounters there’s not much in the way regrets even when the protagonist leaves his wife and three kids alone to go chill in the desert - at least here we get Jake and Kassidy and a sense of how risky this is.

I’m trying to avoid directly referencing some of the knee jerk comments above, but it does feel as though, that if one were “that kind” of atheist, focusing even on the slightest trappings of religion in this episode (which are there to drive the plot and give us some major Kira filler lines) might cause one to miss the episode’s well earned character exploration.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 3:06am (UTC -5)
Yeah, well the Bajorans don't have a religion.

Religion exists to explain things that (so far) cannot be explained by reason like what comes after death, why are we here and so forth. You can accept the explanation which is called faith. The Bajorans know that the Prophets exist and that they watch over them. That is not faith, that is knowledge. They just follow the erratic rules of their space overlords. The prophets are basically this:

This episode is not as bad as Kira and Jake shooting lightnings at each other with heavenly/devilishly glowing eyes but it is still pretty un-Trek. It is the essence of a false equivalency. The whole prophets thing is one of the weakest aspects of the show. In general the Federation just ignores that there are aliens that live outside of time and apparently know everything. Sisko talks to them a few times but there seems to be no scientific effort to contact these super powerful aliens that live nearby. It's is complete nonsense. As is the attitude of the admiral. He behaves like Sisko is some religious fanatic instead of treating this for what it is: a super evolved species trying to communicate through Sisko about the future.

It is pretty stupid and not a good examination of religion or faith or atheism. It would fit better into something like Star Wars.
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 2:11pm (UTC -5)
@ Booming,

While I agree that the Federatin not taking the Prophets seriously was always a stupid omission in the series, I could come up with a head canon that makes sense of it.

Imagine that any attempt to contact these so-called aliens meets with simply nothing; any non-Bajoran trying to have an orb experience gets nothing. Scientific tests show nothing. They are just rocks in a box, which is what happened to the Cardassians trying to steal their secrets. To what extent do you really think that Starfleet is going to actually believe Sisko that he had these experiences? I mean ok, he's a command-level officer so that comes with some gravity. But on the other hand he began having these experiences during a grieving process where he had a bad attitude, and during which the Bajorans started portraying him as some kind of prophet or something; and Starfleet isn't going to wonder if he's lost it? And they have literally no other data than his word, and the Bajoran religion.

Imagine for the moment if someone you knew well claimed to have visions of the Virgin Mary, and cited to you all the Christians who agree that she exists. Would you look at that and take it seriously, or would you start to wonder if your friend is ok in the head? And yeah, the wormhole aliens are 'in the wormhole' in some sense, but not just sitting there like playing marbles in space. They're unreachable, un-contactable, and undetectable. So it makes sense that Starfleet would really wonder if they exist, *until a certain point late in the series when it should be clear.* However this was never shown in the series, and it would have been good to show an admiral or two frustrated that all attempts at commucation with them failed.
James White
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

Interesting take. One question - if what your saying is true, and Starfleet held this opinion of Sisko, then why wasn't he relieved of command?
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 3:15pm (UTC -5)
@ James White,

The answer to this was alluded to a few times but never quite made clear: because the Bajorans wouldn't stand for it. No Sisko, no Bajoran membership. I think in the end Starfleet's hands were tied and they had no choice in the matter.
Jason R.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 3:25pm (UTC -5)
"Yeah, well the Bajorans don't have a religion.

Religion exists to explain things that (so far) cannot be explained by reason like what comes after death, why are we here and so forth. You can accept the explanation which is called faith. The Bajorans know that the Prophets exist and that they watch over them. "

Prior to Sisko and Dax discovering the wormhole and actually talking to the Prophets directly (and documenting it) they didn't know the Prophets were real anymore than modern Christians know that Jesus (as the son of God) was real. They had a bunch of legends and stories same as modern religious people do today. They had the orbs of course, which are admittedly more impressive than your typical artifact what with the glowing and the sparkling - but then again for an advanced civilization like the Bajorans with holograms and space ships, maybe not proof of anything really.

Bottom line the Bajoran religion didn't cease being a religion overnight just because someone proved their Gods to be real.

Throughout DS9 there is this ambiguity about just what the prophets really want and why. That they exist is pretty obvious thanks to the events of Emissary, but their status as "Gods" is as much a matter of faith as anything a Christian or Buddhist believes today.

"Sisko talks to them a few times but there seems to be no scientific effort to contact these super powerful aliens that live nearby. It's is complete nonsense. "

I am not sure what you suggest the Federation should be doing to contact them. They only seem interested in talking to Sisko. Since the wormhole is their home, they kind of can speak to whomever they please. Is the Federation supposed to send probes to invade their home and force their engagement against their will? That would seem to be a violation of the PD not to mention incredibly stupid given that they are basically omnipotent within their domain.
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
I always thought that the Cardassians at least suspected that there was more to it than Bajorans inhaling incense and wearing robes. The orbs are obviously some form of tech. The Bajorans used them regularly to communicate with the prophets and for other stuff. Sure the Federation didn't really know about them but mostly because they had no direct contact to the Bajorans before the occupation ended.

Let's say you become super powerful and people then would serve you and you come up with a few crazy rules would that mean that you have founded a religion?

What is a god really? For the Abrahamitic faiths god is omnipotent, the Buddhists have something like super beings but one thing all these religions have in common is that their super powered believe receivers are fairly hard to reach and impossible to proof. You have to believe that they exist without proof. For the prophets, or wormhole aliens, you just have to pick up the right orb or fly into the wormhole and wait there. It is not much more complicated than a phone call.

And why not just contact them. Say hello. Make sure that they will not start eating Humans or go full Nagilum. In what way would contacting them be a PD violation? They are obviously a space faring people and aware of and in contact with other species. Also their arm reaches even earth. They made Sisko's birth mother have sex with Sisko's dad which is pretty disturbing. Did Federation security ever investigate that? How many more women were forced into sexual slavery to produce useful offspring? The public demands answers!

Even after the prophets destroy several thousand Dominion ships the Federation is still passive towards them. Isn't the Federation all about meeting new civilizations and that stuff?!
James White
Thu, Jan 23, 2020, 6:58pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G

That makes some sense. However, I'm not sure I'd want him with tactical authority if I believed he was delusional. Maybe an Emissary liaison with honorary title and little actual power over the station?
Jamie Mann
Sun, Jan 26, 2020, 3:22am (UTC -5)
Another episode where I sadly disagree with Jammer's score.

As previously mentioned, I'm not a fan of DS9's dealings with religion, given how it simplifies things to produce something which can both fit into a 45-minute episode and won't cause any controversy with the networks who buy the syndication rights.

The answer is usually to push the religious aspects onto an alien race and have the humans of the story as observers who have little or no direct involvement with the religious activities in question; they'll occasionally take part in the Ceremony Of The Week, but won't actually join the religion in question or engage in any significant discussions about it,

The Bajorans are a prime example of this. Every Bajoran hews to the same religious creed to a lesser or greater decree, and at the upper end of the scale can display some worryingly behaviours. Accession is one of the better examples of this, when we see Kira quitting her job because Akoorem Laan believes that the traditional caste-based system should be restored. And in the very same episode, we see a Vedek blithely pushing another Bajoran over a railing and to their death, because the Bajoran in question didn't want to go back to their caste.

It's a highly primitive setup, especially for a society which is allegedly so spiritual - it's a mash-up of the medieval Catholic Church and the rigid, stagnant, and caste-based societies of ancient India and China - a system which is at least as much about maintaining the status quo as it is about spirituality.

Worse, this setup makes little or no sense to me - in a universe where beings of all shapes, sizes and capabilities exist, why do the Bajorans believe the Wormhole aliens to be gods? They've had everything from energy-based aliens to the mighty Q himself (equally if not more capable of manipulating time and space) visit, and the Wormhole aliens didn't even understand the concept of linear time or that the Bajorans were worshipping them until Sisko stuck his head into the wormhole. Hell, it only takes a sentences or two of technobabble to send ordinary linear-time creatures careering into the past.

(And yes: I know it gets wibbly wobbly timey wimey with the fact that the aliens are non-linear and can manipulate the past, present and future. From a 4 dimensional perspective, they essentially ignored Bajor for 10,000 years, other than to occasionally/accidentally drop artefacts out of the undiscovered wormhole...)

Then we come to this episode, in which the writers decided to throw in some more medieval elements. Uncannily accurate visions which slowly kill the person seeing them, even as they find themselves irresistibly drawn by the tantalising possibility of becoming One With The Cosmic All.

Oddly - and presumably deliberately - these visions are never directly tied to the Bajoran religion; instead, they're associated with the effects of Sisko's holodeck accident. Also, they're treated with scepticism, despite the fact that Sisko is able to accurately describe current events which he should have no knowledge of, such as the Admiral's relationship issues with his son.

I'm guessing that this is an artefact of the unwritten rule that ST humans should only observe religion rather than engaging with it, but it does leave things somewhat muddied.

The whole thing with B'hala feels off, too. This is a 20,000 year old painting with partially visible coordinates, and not a single Bajoran has ever attempted to closely study the paintings for further clues? The Cardassian occupation only lasted for around 30 years, which leaves around some 19,970 years for study, and Sisko didn't do anything especially super-scientific in his analysis.

Maybe their society really is just primitive and rigid...
Wed, Feb 19, 2020, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
I like to think the bajoran guy had a really bad case of tarkalean flu that day and the prophets told the Sisko of this man's suffering. Therefore they told sisko to take mercy on him and let him go home early. Rom can pick up his slack anyway
Sun, May 10, 2020, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
This is a strong episode, although I think its glaring deficiency is that it cheaply sacrifices one of the core thematic struggles of DS9 (Sisko's difficulty in accepting the mantle of Emissary, and his attempts to reconcile objective science with Bajoran religion) in the name of exploring the big themes of Spirituality, Faith and Revelation, both from a personal and socio-political standpoint.

Sisko's grudging indulgence of Bajoran prophecy up until now has been firmly rooted in its clear relation to the 'wormhole aliens', yet he makes no attempt to connect the two, even after he recovers. This new unquestioning 'faith' is totally implausible (and certainly not something to be celebrated), regardless of whatever transcendental experience it came out of.

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