Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Air date: 4/27/1998
Teleplay by David Weddle & Bradley Thompson
Story by Harry M. Werksman & Gabrielle Stanton
Directed by Jesus Salvador Trevino
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
"From now on, every hour is happy hour—at least until business picks up. Eat, drink, and be merry."
"...for, tomorrow we die."
— Quark and Bashir
Nutshell: Reasonable for a while, with some nice little character touches, but the last two acts are a serious derailment.
"The Reckoning" is full of interesting little tidbits and character elements from past episodes. It's a story that seems promising. I initially thought the payoff would look into Sisko's "penance" that the Prophets, back in "Sacrifice of Angels," said would be required of him.
Well, it was not to be.
This isn't an awful episode of DS9, though it certainly has some awful moments. It's just that with all the chances to make grand connections with earlier stories, it's too bad that "The Reckoning" ultimately adds up to mean so surprisingly little. If this story turns out to actually mean something someday down the road (though I'm not so sure that's likely), I might be more impressed with it. Unfortunately, right now, there's more that's wrong with the plot than there is that's right about it.
The episode might best be labeled the "annual Emissary episode," in the spirit of such shows as "Destiny," "Accession," and "Rapture." However, it's not nearly as good as any of those previous examples because it has a hopelessly silly ending that manages to undermine most of what's good about the rest of the show.
It starts out reasonably enough, to the point I even felt the sensation of promise. As we begin, the Bajorans have unearthed an ancient stone tablet underneath the city of B'hala (even the reference to the city from last season's episode was a helpful bit of continuity). It's 30,000 years old, and it makes a reference to the Emissary in its inscription. When Sisko goes near it, he has a vision: The Prophets tell him, in not so many words, that they require his assistance for an upcoming event, though the nature of the event and what's required of him is initially unclear.
Sisko takes the tablet back to the station to run an analysis upon it and ponder the nature of the Prophets' request and riddles. Subsequently, ominous foreboding rocks the station as the wormhole does some bizarre things, and forewarnings of doom appear in the forms of natural disasters on Bajor—flooding, earthquakes, and tornadoes.
Much of the rest of the episode is a reasonable revisit to the nature of Sisko's relationship to the wormhole aliens, and how he sees himself in that relationship. On that level, "The Reckoning" works for quite a while because it proves to be (with one glaring exception that I'll address in a moment) a nicely characterized little story. Sisko's role in trying to balance the Emissary/Captain duality isn't a particularly new idea, but it was sensible enough as the episode progressed that it made for some believable and intriguing scenes. The dialog served the purpose of reinforcing Sisko's stance on his role in Bajoran beliefs, which is nice to see on just about any day.
Also of interest was the idea that Jake is uncomfortable with his father's role in Bajoran milieu. "This Emissary stuff scares me a little," he admits, in a scene that is strikingly effective through its understated simplicity. Jake's reference to being helpless twice in the course of one year while his father was lying on a bio-bed having visions was a particularly nice touch. Having a father that is a religious icon strikes me as something that can be pretty daunting.
Meanwhile, I thought that the toned-down use of Kira/Odo in the story was sensible. Their scenes together were decent, managing to avoid screaming "We're a couple!" for anyone who missed "His Way" last week. Sure, it was evident they were an item, but not painfully obvious or excessive. Plus, they had some good scenes where both were acting like the characters they've been for the past five years (rather than being utilized in a zany ends-to-means sitcom like in "His Way"), briefly discussing their differing opinions of faith. Nothing between Odo and Kira was worth getting remotely excited about, but it was pleasant and managed to avoid sinking too much into the "writer's novelty value" of having this new relationship.
Then there was Dax, whose whining and acerbic remarks about having to analyze a 30,000-year-old slab of rock came off as quietly amusing in a sarcastic, Dax-like sort of way. Again, there was nothing here that was remotely groundbreaking, but I did get the feeling I was watching the people move the story from A to B rather than just the mechanics of the plot.
Unfortunately, there's one glaring exception to this generality, and that is, strangely, Kai Winn, who was a major disappointment this time around. The story paints her as entirely too self-serving. Once Sisko brings the tablet back to the station, she arrives to protest, saying that he should've asked the vedek assembly before removing it from the dig site. He apologizes, but she can't leave well enough alone, so she contacts Starfleet to complain.
Some of Winn's reactions, admittedly, are believable; I can certainly understand that she would be upset about Sisko's decision not to contact her before taking the tablet, and given their uneasy past I can certainly see where she would feel threatened by "this outsider's" spiritual encounter with Bajoran deities.
Unfortunately, this is too much of a retread, especially when considering the groundbreaking changes in her character in "Rapture" last year (as well as dialog from "In the Cards"). Her actions this week strike me as character regression rather than character development. The beauty of "Rapture" was that it sent Winn's world spinning into the uncertain, and it seemed she would have to question all of her attitudes, the first and foremost being her long-standing conflict with Sisko. In "The Reckoning," however, it seems she has reverted back to her old sense of ever-doubt and skepticism wherever Sisko is concerned; she challenges him at every turn, logs complaints to his superiors. And then, at the end ... but we'll get to that in due time.
In short, this strikes me as petty behavior on the part of the writers when considering what else they could and should be doing. The idea that Winn would go looking for silly conflicts in the middle of the Dominion War—especially when she knows the extent Sisko has fought for Bajor's interests ever since "In the Cards"—is screen time wasted, as far as I'm concerned. I wanted something new, an outgrowth from the Winn of "Rapture." But "Reckoning" takes the well-traveled road—a road that probably shouldn't even be traveled these days.
That brings us to the last two acts, where we realize what this story is all about; or, in other words, where a relatively reasonable episode goes careening off into the absurd. In reality, the payoff for this story isn't really about Sisko, Kira, Winn, Jake, or anyone else. It's about "good versus evil," which is loosely tied to the fate of Bajor in a manner which is both overlarge and simplistic. We learn (I think) that Sisko's only reason for being contacted by the Prophets at the beginning of the episode was so he could take the tablet back to the "gateway to the temple" (i.e., the station) where one good prophet and one evil pah-wraith could be released in order to engage in a prophesized battle to the end known as "the Reckoning." This fight, by the way, holds the possibility of destroying the entire station.
But that's not all: These forces also have to take possession of two bodies to accomplish this, namely Kira's and Jake's—the former because she is willing to serve the Prophets, the latter for reasons that aren't entirely clear. (The episode hints that maybe the Emissary's role in this fight was to offer his own flesh and blood to be possessed, but the connection is never realized.) Kira becomes the "good prophet," and Jake becomes the "evil pah-wraith."
In execution, this is reduced to the absurd, with a special-effects display that goes way too far, threatening to turn the show into a quasi-farce. Kira-prophet and Jake-pah-wraith face off on the promenade in a light-show display that's akin to Exorcist+Poltergeist taken to a much sillier level. And each "possessed" actor is supplied with vocal distortions and contact lenses; Cirroc Lofton as the Jake-pah-wraith has the opportunity to don dark-red eyes as a symbol of evil. Please, give me a break.
Why, may I ask, do the wormhole aliens even need humanoid bodies in order to carry out this conflict? As far as I can tell, their need to take corporeal form is nothing beyond a plot convenience. And the whole final act looks like it belongs in a B movie. I wonder what exactly the creators were going for here. With a station-wide evacuation followed by lines like "The energy building between them could explode at any second!", it comes off as a bad thriller.
Yet, at the same time, we have some key choices made by Sisko, which prove interesting in and by themselves. First is his decision to let the struggle play itself out, knowing that DS9 could very well be destroyed in the process. There's also his decision to permit Jake to be threatened during the body-possession conflict. Sisko shows faith that the Prophets will protect Jake, which is an intriguing touch.
Unfortunately, this is all undermined by a key decision that Winn makes in order to prevent the station from being destroyed. She decides to raise chronoton radiation levels on the station, which forces the prophet and pah-wraith away in mid-struggle. (This tech procedure was established in a previous scene where Sisko decided against doing it in order to ensure the prophecy would follow its proper course.) The moment when Winn raises the radiation features the Kira-prophet shrieking "NO!" in such a way you can practically see down Nana Visitor's throat. Who in the world came up with all this?
For that matter, just how did Winn even gain access to ops? And how is it she happened to know exactly what to do to raise the radiation levels? An even bigger question: Why did she do it? The reasons for her decision are so lacking in realistic motivation that it simply left me confused. The writers seem to think Winn's actions stem from her personal need to "show up" the Emissary and bring a halt to the Reckoning, which apparently causes the disasters on Bajor to cease (which Winn can then "take credit" for). But I wonder why these disasters and wormhole anomalies stopped in the first place, seeing as the Reckoning wasn't completed.
Now, I can't presume to truly understand how fictional Bajoran prophecies work. But I also don't see how Winn could, either. For all she knew, I'm guessing, stopping the Reckoning prematurely could've angered the Prophets to the extent of bringing about the destruction of Bajor. That may be an extreme in the other direction, but using this absurd conflict of higher powers to bring about a neat and tidy indictment of Winn (via Kira's dialog at the end) is just silly—and totally superfluous if that's all the writers planned to do with something so large as the Prophet's "Reckoning." Maybe this will come into play again someday, but I frankly doubt it would make the events here make much more sense.
Ultimately, what "The Reckoning" turns out to be is a story that does a reasonable job of rehashing little character issues we've already dealt with. Sure, these revisits make for nice reinforcements, but the story doesn't offer anything that's truly new, aside from another generic Bajoran prophecy which is used to incite a laughable light show that plays out on the promenade—hardly what I want to see in a storyline involving the Prophets, whom can be used for much more cerebral purposes than a silly and trite game of "good versus evil."
If the Emissary's role in this story had made any sense, the episode might've fared better. But Sisko's role becomes unimportant after the poltergeist game takes control of the plot. The only important character decision of the story becomes Winn's choice at the end, the motivation of which is either so petty or incomprehensible that the whole notion merely comes off as misconceived. As a result, "The Reckoning" comes off as one of the most ineffective episodes this season, if you consider what it apparently set out to do.
Here's hoping the season finale gets to the real crux of Sisko's supposed penance to the Prophets of Bajor.
Next week: An experimental crew of cadets helms the USS Valiant ... and they get in over their heads.
Previous episode: His Way
Next episode: Valiant
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102 comments on this post
Thu, Nov 22, 2007, 2:10am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 9, 2009, 8:02am (UTC -5)
Fri, Mar 6, 2009, 10:53pm (UTC -5)
Watching it for only the second time, ten years later, it sucked even more than I could possibly remember. Solitaire would have been more engaging.
Fri, May 1, 2009, 4:14am (UTC -5)
Jammer complained Winn was too petty in this episode, and that after Rapture she wouldn't have behaved this way. I think he fails to see what a despecable creature Winn really is. She's never had true faith, nor has she ever cared about anyone but herself. She's a self-serving politician who believes she should be the star of the show. Basically she's a female bajoran version of Dukat. She has the same need to be loved. To be the hero, and to be greater than everyone else that Dukat has, and she tells herself the same lies as Dukat to rationalize her actions. In fact, I found it hilarriously ironic that she accuses Sisko for using the prophets as an excuse to justfy his actions, when she's been doing the same thing HER WHOLE LIFE.
Aqnyway, to understand why she did what she did at the end, you have to look at what happened to her. She finally became Kai, but had to share the spotlight with Sisko who had become Emissary. So she tried to become First Minister, but was forced to yield to Shakaar. Then, Sisko discovers B'Hala, and she gets pushed even further out of the spotlight.
Then, after Sisko starts the Reckoning, she gets the mother of all snubs when the Prophet in Kira, one of her GODS, won't even speak to her. At this point she's completely shattered spiritually. She decides to defy her gods and screw Bajor out of a golden age just so she can feel important again and tell people that SHE saved bajor, DS9, the Emissary's own son, and stopped the disasters. THIS is what Winn is. She has no spirituality. No kindness, and no desire to help anyone but herself. She's just a self serving arrogant toad, and her only desire is to be more important than everyone else. That's why she always causes trouble, and makes big arguements out of little things. She has to be the center of attention.
No, getting back to the episode, I think the whole thing was to show who Winn really was at her core, and to set her up for her fall to the pagh-wraiths later on. As for the battle itself. I think the use of Kira as the vessel of the prophets, a woman who has genuine faith, and the humilty to wonder why she would be worthy (Which Odo rightly says is why she was chosen) and the Descision of Kosst Amojan to posses Jake was exactly right. What better way to torture the Emissary and break his faith then to use his own son to fight the final battle against his gods? As for why they even needed bodies to do this. I admit that was a bit of a stretch, but perhaps they decided since the battle would determine the future of corporeal beings, they should take corporeal form.
Anyway, my point being that this episode is in no way as terrible as most people seem to claim. Yes the battle itself wasn't the best, but it was the build-up and at least for me, the confrontation between Kira and Winn after that made the episode for me.
Fri, Sep 4, 2009, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Nov 22, 2009, 6:57pm (UTC -5)
Fri, Nov 27, 2009, 9:06am (UTC -5)
Fri, Dec 4, 2009, 9:56pm (UTC -5)
Also, while the nature of the Prophets' plans and simplistic good vs evil--Bajoran golden age is extremely hokey, it benefits a lot in rewatching from making Kai Winn such a central character. Knowing what eventually comes of her in S7, I think one of the most pivotal moments in the series occurs when Prophet-Kira greats the Emissary, announces the Reckoning. Then Winn goes to the Prophet, offers her unconditional services--and is totally annoyed. Looking at her face at that moment, I think this is when the utter pride masquerading as faith expresses itself most definitely. It's a moment that makes every twisted act she did in the past, and her final betrayal of the Prophets for the paghwraiths, credible.
Mon, Feb 22, 2010, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
Wonder where Jammer finds the spellings for all these Trekie names ??
Sun, Jul 18, 2010, 5:36pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Oct 4, 2011, 3:21am (UTC -5)
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 3:18pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Apr 25, 2012, 10:23pm (UTC -5)
I also agree with Jammer that the regression of Winn's character back to self serving bitch was unfortunate. I miss the Winn of "Rapture" and "In The Cards." I liked the Winn who reminded Kira that she too suffered at the hands of the Cardassians during the occupation and made actual real sacrifices. It would have been nice to see her character continue her redemption. Still headstrong and at odds with Sisko, but not the wicked hag she ends up as.
Thu, Apr 26, 2012, 8:30am (UTC -5)
[Thompson and Weddle felt that the story should be handled very much like a horror movie, and when they told Behr the direction they were heading in, he loved it and told them "It's Godzilla versus Mothra, with a mummy movie opening."]
Umm yeah...and why would this be a good thing to introduce into a man story arc? Save it for a holodeck episode, yeesh.
Sat, Jun 15, 2013, 11:03pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Aug 6, 2013, 1:58am (UTC -5)
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 5:26pm (UTC -5)
"Choose the form of the destroyer!"
DS9 meets Ghostbusters - I liked it!
Yes, Star Trek is mainly about moral issues, but once in a while I really long for some cool sci-fi action to give me a break from all the endless talking.
Both Kira and jake looked awesome in their possessed state - not just the eerie contacts lenses and the neat fireworks, but their whole attitude. I was excited!
My only regret is that the build-up for this sweet fight scene didn't really succeed in getting the epic nature of the stand-off across ... not in terms of tension and atmosphere. Could've been done better. We should've learned earlier what this whole prophecy was actually about, and the two entities should've been build up to seem more menacing.
Much of the rest of the story is a bit of a mess, going on in different directions without conclusing much about anything.
And Avery Brooks whimping on the promenade as he watches his possessed son losing a fight between Titans ... man, that was horrible! What a terrible performance by Brooks!
But other than that, I liked it. Once in a while it's nice to get some straight-up good vs. evil action - saves us from suffocating in all the concoluted little plot points floating around the quagmire we call "the grey area". I like the grey area ... but sometimes it just gets too tangled up in it's own juices.
hen we need the Ghostbusters to step in and blow stuff up!
Go Egon Spengler!
Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 2:35pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 2:47am (UTC -5)
Earlier in the episode Winn reveals that when the golden age begins there will be no need for Vedics, Kais or even Emissaries. Whether the Profit won the conflict or lost, the outcome was lose/lose for Winn. Best case scenario: the prophet wins the Reckoning and Winn is stripped of everything she's accomplished in her life. All that power, all that influence, it would all be gone. And unlike every other character on the show, she had no back-up career to fall back on.
Her best option was a stalemate, so when Dax gets distracted by some orphans, she makes a mad dash to Ops in order to force that stalemate. Her motivations for doing so make sense to me, especially considering how ambitious she's always been.
Now, what I don't understand is why she'd brag about it afterwards. DS9's writers have always had an odd habit of writing their villains so that they're proud of their reprehensible actions, so I guess it's par for the course... But it does seem kinda dumb for a religious leader to advertise her lack of faith.
TL;DR: Kai Winn stopped the Reckoning because she feared a future where she was no longer Kai.
Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
I actually don't mind this episode. It's not the best episode. It's not even the best religious episode. The sight of possessed Kira though, whoa!!
This starts a number of episodes where I am very impressed at the maturity of Odo and Kira together - they trust and respect each other and in general have so little petty bickering stuff, so few arguments. I am totally impressed with Odo supporting Kira and her faith and her decisions though he has no experience of this on his own. Very mature.
Thu, Jan 16, 2014, 11:46am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 11, 2014, 7:55pm (UTC -5)
I did not find the fight between the Prophet and the Pah-wraith cringeworthy at all. I liked visually being able to tell that Nerys and Jake were possessed. I have no idea why they needed bodies to fight, but there might be some reason behind it, who knows.
What's more concerning is that nobody even contests that these wormhole aliens are gods. Who ever said they were? And why should they be allowed to do what they do? I'm with Bashir on this one. DS9 getting more and more religious... not sure I like it.
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 4:13am (UTC -5)
Why the regression of Winn? I don't believe her "progression" ever happened. She looks at her position — cleric, Vedek, Kai — as a career, not a calling. Every position is a rung on the ladder, every opponent an obstacle to overcome. She became Kai not because she genuinely deserved it, and certainly not because her faith was purest, but because she knew how to get the competition to fail. Remember that Kira is the sum of faith plus humility, making her an adequate vessel for the Prophet. Winn is not humble. She wanted to see the Prophets with her own eyes, so Kai Opaka told her to sit in darkness for a day. Winn did not learn her lesson. Praying to the Kira-Prophet was the equivalent of a politician kissing a baby. Sisko's faith was stronger. Kira's faith was stronger. Winn was faced with the fact that she was, as she had always been, a second-rate cleric with delusions of grandeur who rose to a position far above her level of competence. That's not villainy. That's life. The fact that she could not accept it, and could not allow anyone to know her failure — that's villainy.
This episode does, of necessity, rely on the Reset Button. Of course the Prophet couldn't win: The series would be over within two weeks. Of course the pah-wraith couldn't win: The series would lose most of its standing sets. Kira couldn't die. Jake couldn't die. The big events of the episode just aren't that important. Only Winn really matters and leaves the episode changed. While Sisko and Kira and the others go on as they've always been, Winn *chooses* to put her pride ahead of her faith, and that's a surprisingly huge victory for the pah-wraiths even in the technobabble stalemate. By choosing pride, Winn opens herself to evil. This episode is a lynchpin for the Bajoran arc in season 7 and deserves far more than 2.5 stars.
3.5, now. And it misses 4 only because the epic battle on the promenade still looks like two severely constipated folks trying desperately to move the mail.
Fri, Mar 28, 2014, 3:11am (UTC -5)
I admit I have never seen any shades of gray in Winn and don't see her in Dukat's league as some suggest. Dukat's villainy is balanced by his charm, patriotism, love of family, occasional heroism, and frequent vulnerability/suffering. For these reasons, i endlessly root for his redemption. Winn has never been given any attractive qualities, so I only root for her to get off the screen.
Tue, Apr 22, 2014, 6:53pm (UTC -5)
Brookes doesn't overact, Visitor and Auberjonis are written well despite the slapdash work in previous episodes to put them together, they work here.
This one will be appreciated and re rated more and more as time goes on, and I am not even a fan of the Bajoran religious stuff in DS9...
Mon, Apr 28, 2014, 1:34pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 3:47pm (UTC -5)
A city that Sisko found via visions from her gods has a slab in it with a message addressed to him and when he takes it back to the station because he believes they want him to she accuses him of PLUNDERING her planet's relics and tattles to his superiors? Really?
And then when he smashes it she thinks he did it to be petty and vindictive. Which is spot on, because she could totally see herself doing that.
Essentially you've got this space pope that is alive during the coming of the messiah and she's pissed about it because, in her own words, the prophets have never even spoken to her. And then when the prophet actually arrives on the station it totally ignores her.
It's a brilliant arc for her and sets up her ultimate betrayal in the finale, but she hardly has a leg to stand on. The emissary took a slab addressed to him from a city the prophets led him to. She's being petty and selfish and power hungry. Which is totally right for her character, but I can't see how you'd ever think it made sense to agree with her.
Thu, May 8, 2014, 5:33pm (UTC -5)
I still agree with the bulk of Jammers review on this one, however, especially concerning things like Winn knowing exactly how to activate the chroniton radiation and so on. I also agree that the show adeptly fires on all four cylinders for the majority of the episode. And I further agree with some of the intriguing comments here as to why corporeal bodies were needed and other minutiae involving the battle.
All that being said, I kind've like this episode. It's an interesting re-examination of tried and true plot threads with intriguing new elements added. Some great dialogue and interpersonal chemistry are highlights as is the overall pacing and direction. Some hokey-ness near the end stops this one from being a real winner but not enough to completely undermine the episode as a whole.
Thu, May 8, 2014, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
The main problem with this episode is that it serves as the alternate template in dealing with the Prophets to "Far Beyond the Stars." This episode for ever cemented the Bajorans' gods as Dragonball Z monsters with the most cartoonish of motivations possible. Here the stage was set for the groan-inducing final season with all its EPIC BATTLE FOR HEAVEN theatrics. Blegh.
Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
"Kai Winn, who was a major disappointment this time around. The story paints her as entirely too self-serving."
"Unfortunately, this is too much of a retread, especially when considering the groundbreaking changes in her character in "Rapture" last year (as well as dialog from "In the Cards"). Her actions this week strike me as character regression rather than character development."
This is only true of you've been fooled into believing that Winn had ever "progressed". She most certainly has not, ever. She's always been a self-serving egotistical bitch. Now she KNOWS the prophets see through her veil as well. She only has verbally capitulated on occasion because she had no choice or she needed to attempt to save face. She's not only faithless, she's also talentless. Her actions while she was First Minister clearly demonstrate that.
Now, on to this episode. Aside from the "battle" at the end, this episode is well done I think and after reading all the comments here the choices for the participants in this battle made sense. I still don’t know why they needed corporeal bodies, but one can question just about everything in Star Trek on that same level if they chose. Some things you just have to accept. Kira being selected as a portal was perfect 9and well played), Jadzia’s humor was on key and enjoyable, Jakes special moments worrying about losing his dad again were priceless.
While we all love the "shades of grey" that DS9 has given us, there is room for good old black and white "good vs evil" as well.
I'm not sure why some have an issue with the "red eyes". The PW's have always been red since we learned of them. They were red when they were purged from the celestial temple.
If I were Star Fleet I would have told Winn to pack sand with regard to the artifact. How many times has Sisko/Emissary saved Bajor? Screw her.
This isn't a classic, but I think 2.0 stars is epically low.
3.5 stars for me.
Sun, Oct 12, 2014, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
As mentioned, the first three quarters of the episode are solid, with nice character touches for Sisko, Kira, Odo, Jake, and even Winn. The last quarter... I don't hate. It's straight up comic book DS9 in presentation - and I think it'll always be at odds with its more thoughtful social commentary stories.
This ep DOES work for me, but it's notably different in tone from what we've seen so far with this storyline (minus "The Assignment", which may as well have been any body snatching Trek story for as much as we knew about the Wraiths back then). Though it may sound odd, there is something a bit more sight-unseen about episodes like "Destiny", "Rapture", and even "Far Beyond the Stars". Up until now, the Prophets/WAs still came off as aloof other-dimensionals, on par with Q or Nagilum or any other godlike Trek entity. The tone finally changes here. I'm not totally comfortable with it, especially the implication that Bajor's natural processes are governed via... magic? That said, I don't outright dislike it either, though I feel like I should. I guess there's something to be said for a universe in which this kind of thing isn't necessarily uncommon, but I understand why something so wacky is so important to one of the show's main narratives.
This gets a 3 stars with an asterisk from me. I think it's a good episode that holds together, but it's potentially pretty alienating when it doesn't necessarily have to be. Do we really need Star Trek's take on well-worn gods vs devils story? Probably not.
Sun, Oct 12, 2014, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
The last sentence of the second paragraph should read:
"I guess there's something to be said for a universe in which this kind of thing isn't necessarily uncommon, but I understand why something so wacky being so important to one of the show's main narratives causes problems."
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 5:51pm (UTC -5)
Interesting, for aliens supposed to be out of linear time.
Fri, Dec 19, 2014, 6:19am (UTC -5)
They should understand linear time as well as Sisko does. Since he explained it to them!
Mon, Feb 16, 2015, 9:26pm (UTC -5)
I liked this story.
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
And for the naysayers:
At least blue-eyed Kira is pretty hot.
Not like brown-eyed Kira isn't either but oh well.
Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 11:41pm (UTC -5)
... Well, don't mind if I do, Dax. That line always felt like cheating on the writers' part, a way of adding artificial tension and drama to the story. Throughout the series, the (mouth of) the wormhole is considered the gateway to the Celestial Temple, not the man made space station that was moved towards it.
For example, revisit "The Assignment" in which the Pah'Wraith possessed Keiko flew a runabout to the mouth of the wormhole in preparation of killing the Prophets. Or season 3's "Destiny" where another Bajoran prophecy claimed three vipers would "burn the temple gates", and that turned out to be three comet fragments that passed through the wormhole.
But, like Bashir said in The Reckoning: "The ancient prophecies are a tangle of vague contradictions".
Sun, Jun 14, 2015, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
Tue, Dec 1, 2015, 4:18am (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 6, 2016, 11:31am (UTC -5)
On the other hand we have some good performances and some nice dialogue. But not great overall. 2 stars.
Sun, Feb 21, 2016, 8:55am (UTC -5)
The episode also suffers because it is dramatically flat -- previous Sisko-and-the-Prophets episodes had him having definite beginning and end points within the episode, which at least allowed for some change (if not necessarily for the better). This one, he begins with a total devotion to the Prophets, to the point where he is apparently mind-controlled to take the tablet and then smash it in a brief flurry of anger which itself is created by the Prophets apparently, and then he continues to be a man of absolute faith even while his son is taken hostage. Sisko insists that the Prophets won't hurt his son, which...well, let's be frank, Ben, it's not like the WA occupying Kira's body said that. More in a minute. At least in "Rapture" there was some degree of push-back from other people with some degree of power. It is true that it makes sense for Starfleet et al. to give the WAs a wide berth given their extreme power level (and I guess since they "owe" them for "Sacrifice of Angels"), but still. (I revisited the Cynic's review of this, and he mentions that if Starfleet is willing to do anything to appease the WAs it could really develop into a Dominion-type situation, with the WAs as Founders.) Besides Sisko and Kira -- and Odo, who was in Kira's corner -- most of the crew did oppose Sisko's decision to some degree, but no one exactly could do anything about it, or even threaten, which means that for most of the story none of our main cast are even active agents -- Sisko mostly just does what the Prophets "want him to," and the others stand by. The brief debate about what Kira would want is appreciated, but I do wish that Bashir or Dax pointed out that Jake wouldn't consent to being the incarnation of a Pah-Wraith and that they should flood the deck with Chroniton radiation for that sake.
I liked Winn's role in this episode for most of the running time; while it felt there was a bit of a weird reset to pre-"Rapture" dynamics here, for the most part Winn's objections to Sisko's rash behaviours were on-point, expressed in an appropriate-to-the-character condescending manner. "Rapture" showed how Sisko's religious belief (fanaticism) brought him closer to Winn, and now it tears them further apart specifically because they both have strong religious beliefs but which contradict each other -- "I felt like smashing it, ergo I was meant to smash it!" from Sisko goes up against "there are random earthquakes, therefore the Prophets want you to bring the tablet back to Bajor," and frankly without any actual evidence both statements seem about equally plausible. How can this religious conflict be resolved? Answer: turns out Sisko's right and Winn's wrong. Oh well. That said, Winn's turnaround at the very end makes no sense to me. I understand the argument that Winn flooded the deck with radiation because she didn't want a world where she wasn't Kai, but I did not detect that level of concern in her tone while she was telling Kira that Bajor will have no need of Vedeks or Kais, and as ambitious as Winn is I don't believe that she would turn around on a whim like this and decide to destroy Bajor's upcoming Golden Age for that reason, at least without a rationalization. The only thing that sort of makes sense to me is that Winn actually was afraid that the Pah-Wraiths were going to win, in which case it is still a "failure of faith" but of a different sort, an understandable fear of the consequences if the battle is lost. However, you know, Winn runs out when Kira-Prophet is absolutely winning, so I don't get it. Given that this is one of the only moments in the episode where one of the characters someone makes a full-on choice, it's a major problem that it is not believable.
Anyway, Sisko's willingness to risk his son's life is surely a major development, which shows the depth of his faith, but here the episode frustrates me greatly. Sisko claims that the Prophets will protect him, and I have no idea why he claims this except as rationalization -- do the Prophets have that kind of sense of meaning of individual life? Moreover, as I said before, it's actually not *just* Sisko's choice what happens to Jake -- and in fact, that Jake has his life risked because his father is a true believer and so gets the automatic say is rather disturbing. That Jake is absolutely certain that the Pah-Wraith was so evil that it must be destroyed, even if Jake dies, means that he doesn't hold anything against Sisko, which certainly makes Sisko's choice much easier. I would really have admired the episode had it gone a different direction, and had Jake outright angry at his father, maybe even unable to forgive him, for basically throwing him to the wolves for an abstract spiritual struggle of unknown meaning, choosing the Prophets over him *again* -- and I think this would have been consistent with the way the story has danced around the conflict between Sisko's Emissary status and his fatherhood ("Rapture," metaphorically "The Visitor"). Also, it would be consistent with Jake as someone who genuinely doesn't want to risk death even for heroic reasons ("Nor the Battle to the Strong") and Jake who in LITERALLY THE EPISODE AFTER THIS ONE says "That's right. All I care about is Jake Sisko and whether or not he's going to be killed by a bunch of delusional fanatics looking for martyrdom." That Sisko believes that the Prophets/Pah-Wraith struggle is important enough to die for is one thing, that he may be willing to risk his son another; but that Jake has no qualms about letting himself die for this, or his father putting this conflict between aliens over his life, is quite another. Jake is not Starfleet, he's not Bajoran, he's not religious, and in this episode he pointed out how much this stuff scares him. The ending removes a potentially interesting tragedy, but not convincingly. And let's add to all this -- it's not like Jake *had to die* for the Pah-Wraith to be contained -- his life was in danger only because Sisko smashed the damn tablet in the first place.
And boy what a goofy light show. That's not what kills the episode -- in some ways it's no more an abstraction than the ship battles, which frequently have no real strategy and so are mostly special effects shows that are meant to represent the idea of combat -- but it doesn't help that it looks ridiculous.
On the plus side, while I don't support Kira's blind faith, and neither does Odo, I appreciate that Odo was fully honest about it and was willing to let her die for her beliefs. This mostly reassures that Odo is not the same Odo from the future in "Children of Time" -- though I think I wish that this were a little more gradual a transformation. (Would Odo really be so cool about Kira maybe dying like a week after they got together?)
SPOILERS for the season finale: It occurs to me that this episode does in some way set up Sisko blaming himself for Jadzia's death; O'Brien found a way to neutralize the Pah-Wraith threat while still putting Keiko's life first, and Worf chose Jadzia's life over millions in "Change of Heart." Sisko made the call in this episode to place the battle over his son, citing "faith." And as the guy who smashed the tablet, Sisko does end up being the guy responsible for the release of the Pah-Wraiths back into the world.
1.5 stars at most for me.
Thu, Mar 3, 2016, 7:28pm (UTC -5)
This describes just about every DS9 plot and arc. The DS9 writers have this bad habit of luring you in to making an emotional investment, then making the return just... evaporate. They just can't seem to cut it, ever.
It is at the point where I can't even fully watch the half decent episodes any more, they're destroyed by this underlying sense of forthcoming irrelevance. These episodes can't be trusted. Every good moment has an undertone of "How are the writers going to mess *this* one up?"
Tue, Apr 26, 2016, 11:25am (UTC -5)
The reason for Winn aborting the Reckoning at the end may not be just one thing. I think that once the prophet shunned her she wanted to lash out and teach the prophet a lesson about paying her the proper respect (!). I also agree with a previous poster that she most likely doubted the prophets would prevail and decided her judgement was better than theirs. People perhaps miss that it takes a truly deranged mind (or a Klingon) to literally think it knows better than a god what to do. I also think she did it for pragmatic reasons since she's overall a pragmatist rather than a person of faith. She believed the station was essential for the protection of Bajor and she wasn't about to let the Emissary or even the prophets tell her to give it up for some stupid battle.
If I had to guess I'd say the need for corporeal vessels was to test Sisko's faith. The pagh wraiths would want it to crumble, while the prophets no doubt saw it as a chance to cement it. In fact, I'd even go as far as to suggest that "the reckoning" had nothing to do with any golden age but rather was outright a reckoning of Sisko's resolve. The bits in the prophecy about "the rebirth" may just have been there to mess with Winn's mind and give her the mental fuel to do what she was meant to do and defy the prophets. It's easy to forget that the prophets don't merely predict the future but exist outside of time. I find it hard to believe they "didn't know" what the outcome of the reckoning would be, as if Winn was some total mystery to them. A problem with my theory is the prophet's "NO!!!" when the chronoton radiation begins, but actually we don't know it was the prophet speaking. If the prophet relinquished control of Kira just at that moment it could very well have been her screaming in protest at someone interfering with the prophets and halting an apparently winning battle for them.
Regarding the light show at the end I'd like to point out that this is a clear lift of the battle scene in B5 between Kosh and Ulkesh, even in terms of the similarity of the special effect used and the 'good energy being vs. bad energy being' aspect. This doesn't precisely excuse the scene for those that didn't like it, but I guess at times Behr went full turkey in borrowing from B5. It's not strictly required to think of the battle as 'good vs evil', though, since we certainly don't know enough about the prophets to call them good. If we're to look at the source material we'd find that the Vorlons are many things, but good is not one of them.
This episode is important because it cements Sisko as being on the side of the prophets and Winn as being their opponent. She was going to go on pretending to be their humble servant, except that after outright shunning her (just as Sisko and the Bajorans shunned Dukat) she was never going to put up with that. She blatantly says in a later episode that prophets that don't pay her the proper respect don't deserve her loyalty, and the road leading to that statement was paved here. I think The Reckoning is a very good episode and I've always liked it.
I always wonder at people who don’t like the religious aspect of DS9 when in fact it is pure science fiction involving the “what if” of aliens that could exist outside of time. There is essentially nothing religious about it, but because it involves aliens far more advanced than Humans (see: Arthur C. Clarke’s comment about advanced technology being indistinguishable from magic) people seem to freak out. Sisko’s relationship to the prophets doesn’t need to be seen as anything more than a Starfleet officer participating in a treaty with a very peculiar alien race.
Fri, Jun 3, 2016, 2:45am (UTC -5)
As another "Sisko as Emissary" episode, it's nowhere near as effective as previous entries like "Destiny", "Accession", "Rapture" and "Sacrifice of Angels". However, I do absolutely love that it tells an obviously very biblically based story. Whereas "Sacrifice of Angels" worked hard to portray Sisko as a Bajoran version of Moses, "The Reckoning" goes gangbusters to paint him as a Bajoran Abraham (offering his own son as a sign of his faith and so forth). Winn is somewhat used effectively even if her motivation for driving away the Prophet and Pah-wraith is unclear. It's nice that the groundwork for her ultimate betrayal of the Prophets is already being laid - she says at one point that the Prophets have never spoken to her, which is one of the tools Dukat uses to influence her into accepting the Pah-wraiths. And I also love that Sisko's spiritual journey is now basically complete. If "Call to Arms" made it clear that Sisko identified himself as a Bajoran (in a temporal sense), he is now a firmly a full believer in the Bajoran religion.
The problem - and this is probably going to sound really strange coming from me - is the portrayal of the atheist characters. I savaged TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers?" and TNG: "Devil's Due" for their depictions of theists - basically as nothing but simple minded morons. Well, oddly enough, this time around it is the atheists that come across looking really, really stupid. If I'm going to be fair, I have to call this out. The atheists among the Senior Staff (mostly Dax but Bashir to a lessor extent) really need to start fucking paying attention! What the hell is all this talk about "good grief, guys, this is absurd; nothing is going to happen!" People, this isn't some random religion that exists solely on faith. The Prophets (and Pah-wraiths) are scientifically provable entities. They can be called Wormhole Aliens all day long, but that isn't going to change the fact that they do exist. Why are they treating any discussion of them as meaningless unscientific faith/dogma?! Dax's attitude is most unbelievable. When Sisko decides to let the battle take place on the station she simply can't believe it, instead wanting to force the Prophet and Pah-wraith off the station because, apparently, all this religious stuff is just silly. WTF! Did she just forget that the Prophets are the only thing standing between them and the Dominion's full strength from the Gamma Quadrant?! Oh, the Prophets want something from us? Well, fuck them, am I right! Let's just tell them to piss off! After it's not them and their abilities that are protecting our asses at this very moment - the only thing keeping the Dominion on their side of the Wormhole is the soul-chilling existential terror they must be feeling at the prospect of facing the magnificent Jadzia Dax in personal combat, am I right?! If you're going to make the atheists look this fucking stupid, then I'm going to call you out on it just like I did when you were doing it in the reverse. They even go so far as to have Worf, of all people, side with the atheist contingent. Given that he is himself a man of faith and firmly sided with the theists in "Rapture", this makes next to no sense. Then, just to throw a monkey wrench into the system, the writers have the most ardent atheist in the main cast - Odo - show true tolerance and respect for the faithful by sticking up for Kira's decision to help the Prophet - which, I should point out, required an act of faith of his part as he had no direct evidence that Kira was willing. What is going on here?!
So, "The Reckoning" is an enjoyable, but deeply flawed episode.
Fri, Jun 3, 2016, 11:58am (UTC -5)
I would have preferred it if the "atheist" characters focused on Kira and Jake and the possibility/likelihood of their deaths, especially Jake -- Sisko is the next of kin, but that doesn't give him the sole say over whether or not they are allowed to work on rescuing Jake from having his body taken over by a malignant entity. While Kira can be presumed to consent because of her faith, with Jake it's a different story, even if after the fact he indicates that he was willing to sacrifice himself to destroy the Paghwraith. Even to the extent that the Federation (and Klingons and Romulans) owe the Prophets big for their intervention, it is reasonable to expect some opposition to civilians giving up their bodies and possibly their lives to a battle with unknown consent. Maybe if an argument came down to it, Worf as Strategic Operations Officer (and the next-highest ranking officer besides Sisko and Kira) would conclude that civilian casualties (i.e. Jake) in a war being fought by their...ally are justified, or maybe he would conclude that it is essential that civilians' rights to bodily autonomy be protected, or that they have to open a comprehensible dialogue with the Prophets beyond that which Sisko has before they can agree to whatever terms they demand, and decide that he must confront Sisko. Or the other Starfleet officers (without the personal connection Sisko has, or the faith that the Bajorans have) might ask whether they know enough about the Paghwraiths to know for sure that they are as evil and as in need of destruction as the Bajoran prophesy tells -- they have some info (from Keiko's experience) but not too much. I am straying from what the episode actually depicted, I know; there are a lot of what ifs I find unexamined.
Fri, Jul 15, 2016, 10:24pm (UTC -5)
Some commenters have argued that Winn was never a believer. I think, up until the climax of this episode, she was written as one. No, her beliefs didn't align well with Kira's, but that isn't unusual for 2 followers of the same religion on this planet. Winn believes her gods are stern parental figures who value the order that comes from hierarchy and obedience. (Not an unusual belief here on Earth!) Of course it's only natural that Winn would rise to the top of that hierarchy; only someone who properly appreciates the importance of order could properly run the faith.
That's self-serving, but a lot of faith is. Taking one's own philosophies & attributing them to a god is pretty universal for believers. The communist who claims god hates capitalism, the Individualist who says god loves capitalism, the homophobe who claims god thinks homosexual acts are wrong, the homosexual who claims god is just fine with them; these are all people who create god in their own image.
So, yes, Winn's faith was self-serving, but that doesn't mean it's not real. And her faith did evolve over time. After initially rejecting the idea that the prophets had chosen Sisko, who didn't understand Bajor, she eventually accepted that they did have a place for him in their order of the universe. That's an adjustment to her faith, but only to a degree. She still believes in order & hierarchy, even if her gods have mysteriously given this (still so ignorant!) alien a prominent place in that order.
In this episode something happens that can't happen to a believer on Earth: she comes face to face with her gods and finds out they don't share her faith at all! Not only do they have no use for her, the current leader of their order on Bajor, but they envision a future without any hierarchy whatsoever. This shatters her faith. I think it's not just her possible loss of status: Winn would probably be happier living at the bottom of an ordered society than as an equal in an anarchy. The world just wouldn't make sense.
Her actions afterwards make sense. She isn't sure what she believes now, but having either side win this battle doesn't seem like a good idea. So she stops it when she gets the chance.
Reviewing the episode as a whole, I have the problem others have mentioned, one that continues in stories with the prophets for the remainder of the series: the good vs. evil storyline isn't as interesting as what came before. However (as is often the case in the upcoming episodes), it was still done fairly well. The special effects do come off as silly, and William B went over some of the problems with Jake that should have been addressed, but I find the characters actions generally well-motivated, and I think I'd give this episode 2.5 stars.
Fri, Jul 15, 2016, 11:13pm (UTC -5)
Thu, Mar 16, 2017, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
It's hard to say whether the writers were flirting with a God/Jesus analogy -- "He was willing to sacrifice his only son" or maybe an Abraham/Isaac analogy (his faith was strong enough that he was willing but in the end he didn't have to).
The series never deals with the larger question of what makes the Prophets good, and who is to say they are good? How would the history or fate of Bajor have been different, if at all, without their intervention? If not at all, then why worship them? Who is say the path they have laid for Bajor is good, or just some path?
Who are the Bajorans praying to on the promenade? What is the point of praying to a deity that that deity will win when the deity has already says it doesn't know if it can win? Do the Bajorans believe in some god that is more powerful than the prophets and can influence the outcome of the fight? Or do they believe that the prophets will draw strength from their prayers? Have the prophets ever given any indication that they are interested in the prayers of the Bajorans?
Sat, Jul 8, 2017, 3:39pm (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
Kai Winn is such a person. She doesn't care about holy artefacts, she doesn't care about communicating with the prophets - she's a selfish old woman who knows she is going to die within a decade and just wants history to revere her, heck, I don't think she even believes in the prophets.
To answer "why Jake?", as said above, he's the emissary's son. If you actually go back through the seasons you'll see some "coincidences" where Jake gets into a bit of trouble (and avoids others) - the Pah Wraiths have been after him for a while and while not responsible for all danger he's experienced they are definitely responsible for some.
Bet anything if Jake had an engineering background it would have been him and not Miles in that Pah-Wraith-Keiko episode.
Sat, Aug 19, 2017, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
The episode started out with promise. Lots of interesting atmosphere--ancient Bajoran text, an end of days vibe, bizarre natural events including the wormhole odd behavior, Winn in the mix. Then about halfway into the episode it goes off the rails and turns into a hot mess.
Lot of head scratchers. Why was the wormhole acting so strangely? Why not leave the aliens entombed in tablet rather than releasing them to wreak havoc? Why need bodies? Couldn't they just battle it out in their non corporeal forms? Why need Sisko to shatter the tablet--just create a tremor and shatter themselves? And all the Prophets needed the Emissary to do is break the tablet?!?!? Really underwhelming.
Thu, Aug 24, 2017, 6:28pm (UTC -5)
There is one thing everyone seems to have missed. Kai Winn has always cared a lot about the fact that the Prophets have never spoken to her directly, and she feels a great deal of frustration about that, and resentment towards Sisko.
Here she comes face to face with a Prophet and passionately asks for it to communicate with her and validate her as Kai. The Prophet completely ignores her. I think this tipped her over the edge and down the path she takes in Season 7. I truly believe Winn's desire for a spiritual connection with the Prophets is genuine, but she becomes disillusioned and angry with them.
This combined with the point others have made that she would lose her status if the Reckoning were allowed to be completed, give her ample motivation to do what she did (questions of how she got into Ops and how she knew what to do aside).
Sat, Sep 16, 2017, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
And also tell me why what with all the flooding and the quaking, it's the Pah Wraiths that are the evil ones again?
Thu, Nov 16, 2017, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
The Bajoran prophet mystery dragged on for much of the episode as Sisko wonders what the hell they want, although, of course, he got it in the end. The ancient mystique of Bajor is kind of cool, but what the prophets want seems dumb -- that they need the station for a battle between good and evil while possessing corporeal bodies. Ugh.
It gets cheesy when Kira gets possessed. And then Jake is chosen as the evil's representative. Some of the episode is a bit of Jake's concern for Benjamin, so Jake being chosen as the evil pah wraith sort of works. But it plays out in a very B-movie sort of way. The evacuation of DS9 based on the prophet's vaguely conveyed wishes is more silliness, trying to add gravity to a situation that just didn't generate the weight needed (no pun intended) because it was ridiculous.
Kai Winn is as annoying as usual -- how did she know how to operate the chronoton beam and put an end to the Kira/Jake fight? At least Kira has some good arguments about Kai Winn having less faith in the prophets than Ben Sisko -- good to see Kira put her in her place.
1.5 stars for "The Reckoning" -- did Kira beat Jake or was it a stalemate? I guess Sisko fulfills his promise to the prophets. I guess that's where things are left off after this episode. But this was just a poorly written episode, the ideas here aren't totally stupid but how it's executed sucked.
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 6:07pm (UTC -5)
They should understand linear time as well as Sisko does. Since he explained it to them!
And if you explain non linear time to a human, they'd get it, would they, Rob ;) ?
Thu, Jan 11, 2018, 1:06am (UTC -5)
1) I'd actually hoped for more of a fight. They just... stand there and put power against power. I was thinking more throwing around, doing some damage to the station and themselves. Sort of like Gandalf and Saruman, when they fought in Lord of the Rings.
2) I'd have found it more enjoyable if the Wraith was the only one in the stone, and a Prophet showed up on the station just as the tablet was broken. Why encase them both for 30,000 (linear) years?
Maybe three thoughts...
3) I was surprised the Wraith seemed to be losing so quickly, as the two forces would seem to be on-par with each other. Perhaps Kira wasn't holding back, and being a true believer, just let the power flow, while Jake was screaming NO! on the inside, and mildly fighting the Wraith. I can see that tilting an even scale...
Enjoy the Day Everyone... RT
Sun, Apr 1, 2018, 7:26am (UTC -5)
It might be that I've just forgotten all the details in regard to Kai Winn's character development, but personally I find her somewhat in tune with the the Winn I've come to known. Sure, her actions are more than questionable, but in her defence, Sisko could show her a lot more consideration and basic respect. It's like the whole DS9 crew has decided that she is what she is and therefore they don't even have to apologize to her when they just take an ancient artefact from their home.
She admittedly is a pain in the ass, but what choice do they leave her? In the end, she's a human like everybody else.
Anyway, an amazing episode which I will gladly return to. As a man of faith, episodes dealing with Bajoran religion adds yet one more nuance to the already deep story arc of DS9.
Sat, Jun 9, 2018, 2:55am (UTC -5)
Fri, Jul 27, 2018, 1:46pm (UTC -5)
The concept is good, and I did like the beginning, but man, throwing lazer hadoukenns at each other is so cliche.
Mon, Sep 17, 2018, 12:01am (UTC -5)
Considering how complex the whole Bajor-Emissary-Prophets-religion-politics storyline was, what, if anything, did the producers do to help you prepare?
Fletcher: They just sent me the script. There was never a discussion. I never met Rick Berman.
Fletcher: Really. That’s not just Star Trek; it’s television. You get the script (and do your job).
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
It’s not clear at all that Jake would have survived or that the Prophets would have protected him. He was close to dying and the Prophets (who have their own interests) never said that they could or could protect the opposing host.
Kai’s motives may have been mixed, but I suggest that part of her motive was a concern for Benjamin and Jake.
In the Old Testament story, God initially asks Abraham to sacrifice his son to show his faith, but in the end God prevents the killing. Many have interpreted this a humanist shift in ancient culture and religion from an awareness that it is unethical to offer human sacrifice.
In the end, I found Kira to be too much of a religious fanatic in her naive hope for 1000 year reign of peace and blessing, whereas Kai, who had also believed in that vision, was willing to forego it for the sake of not completing the sacrifice of Benjamin’s son.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 7:12pm (UTC -5)
Very interesting take. I had not thought of it that way. I'll have to ponder Winn being the good guy here.
Thanks for sharing.
Tue, Oct 30, 2018, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
Louise Fletcher gives a fine performance as always, of course.
Sat, Dec 1, 2018, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
That being said, the bizarre showdown at the end of the episode was at least entertaining, even if only for the fact that I was laughing at it as opposed to with it. I would infinitely prefer being forced to sit down and watch this episode again as opposed to something like 'Let He Who is Without Sin', or indeed any episode focused on a romantic relationship (I suppose that is somewhat ironic given that the Kira Odo relationship continues where it left off in the last episode, including one of the most tacky lines of dialogue ever written).
Fri, Feb 1, 2019, 11:50pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Feb 2, 2019, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 9:53am (UTC -5)
--War news still grim, but better. Hmm. Looks like were heading for an Emissary ep.
--Jake is there to get a story and seems resentful of Dad's Emissary role. I feel for you, Jake.
--Blech. Prophets. Emissary. Reckoning. I don't mind religious themes and imagery. I'm not someone who's upset by the addition of it, to an ST show. It's not new. The Klingons have spiritual beliefs, as do the Vulcans, and more. I just find this Bajoran stuff pretty boring, too boring to be successful as such a large part of the show.
--I'm just ignoring Kira and Odo. Their relationship makes so little sense.
--Dax, translating says the Bajorans will "suffer horribly," or "eat fruit." Why not both? I've suffered horribly from eating fruit.
--Exposition by feeding tube, again. Kira tells us the Kai is jealous, blah, blah. The Kai resents Ben's Emissary role. She and Jake should start a club.
--I do love Fletcher as the Kai.
--Blue Eyed Kira. Oh, wow. An actual Good v Evil Battle of the Titans? Superman v Zod kinda thing?
--Red Eyed Jake. Goodness Gracious! Great Balls of Fire!!
--The Kai ends the crazy? She knows how to raise chronaton levels? Well. Ok.
--The Kai's motivation - she's so jealous she wouldn't let the Reckoning happen? The Prophets liked what Ben did, so they brought floods and earthquakes. They don't like what the Kai did, so the floods and earthquakes have stopped. Indeed, the Prophets move in mysterious ways.
--Not well done.
Wed, Feb 6, 2019, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
There are a lot of things I don't like about this ep. One thing I think was a missed opportunity - - if they're going down this road anyway - - is to actually have Established Coward Jake react with some disappointment, fear or anger that his father was willing to sacrifice him like that. There's a suggestion that Sisko believed the prophets would protect Jake, but that's a big leap for the inscrutable and capricious wormhole aliens. Having Jake say "oh yeah, it was pure evil, I would die to kill that thing" is an easy out for Ben. It's not necessarily unbelievable that Jake would find that kind of courage, but I think for him to even go "I would have been willing to die, but you had no way to know that" would have been good.
Sat, Apr 6, 2019, 9:38pm (UTC -5)
Sat, May 11, 2019, 10:10pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Aug 3, 2019, 5:50am (UTC -5)
Mon, Feb 3, 2020, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
Worf is the executive officer of DS9 and in charge of operations. There is no way he is leaving his post. Perhaps this again shows how the writers have little understanding of military traditions.
Thu, Mar 5, 2020, 4:05pm (UTC -5)
I don't know if DS9 can ever be said to have jumped the shark as a whole, but for me, the Prophet arc certainly did, and I'd say that this episode was where Kira daintily tip-toed over the carcass of a space-whale.
Sisko becomes yet more obtuse with his Prophet obsession! Kai Winn undoes the last few seasons of development and goes back to being a one-dimensional walking cliche! The prophets and their evil red-eyed arch enemies settle things in the time honoured tradition of any advances civilisation, by taking over the bodies of more primitive beings and waving their space-genitals at each other until someone submits!
I could question the behaviour of the various characters in this episode. I could ask why the nominally non-linear prophets and pah-wraiths decide to settle things via fisticuffs. I could question Sisko's involvement in the entire affair. I could even point and laugh at the special effects used for the end battle.
But to be honest, the carcass of that space whale is starting to stink. I'm out of here…
Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 11:20pm (UTC -5)
More like BajSNORE... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
Wed, Jun 10, 2020, 2:27am (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 25, 2020, 9:30am (UTC -5)
Mon, Jul 27, 2020, 6:57am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 4:27am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 6:25am (UTC -5)
Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 1:20pm (UTC -5)
"Yeah but this episode stands for a lot of the bad stuff DS9 started, like GOOD vs EVIIIIIL religious stuff."
I know this is a new flavor of storytelling even for DS9, but I have to say I think despite what some accuse DS9 of, Trek always was (until recently) a good vs evil show. The Federation was good, full stop, and humanity was living in an enlightened future, full stop. Any challenging of the Federation by foreign powers, be it Romulan, Dominion, Klingon at times, bottom line is they are wrong and Federation are the good guys. That Sisko should end up aligned with good guy wormhole aliens doesn't strike me as being off-brand, other than they're really Vorlon energy-beings. But I think Trek has always been a sort of retooled Western, cowboys vs Indians, where the heroes are not just protagonists but also morally and culturally superior. That's the franchise. Contrary to the opinions of some, I don't think DS9 changed that a jot. It's the new series that would love to portray the Federation as the bad guys, which makes them contemporary rather than progressive.
Thu, Jul 30, 2020, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
I never saw the Romulans or Klingons as evil. The Federation is good, yes but that was kind of the central point of Star Trek. That many different worlds, working together voluntarily and respectfully, based on strong ethical values, will always be a force for good. The other empires were just empires who do what empires do.
The Dominion is evil. The Dominion is kind of like Nazi Germany. A Fascist dictatorship. The only way to reason with them is to literally bomb your way into the Führerbunker and hold a gun to Hitlers head. The next thing is section 31. Section 31 is probably the greatest sin of DS9. It brought some interesting plots but woah Starfleet Gestapo. Here the walls of star trek started to shake.
TOS admittedly had western elements, in no small part because they had zero budget and had to use old western sets all the time. :)
Thu, Feb 18, 2021, 11:53am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 30, 2021, 11:16am (UTC -5)
Tue, Mar 30, 2021, 12:10pm (UTC -5)
"Non-linear people that have command over time itself should not be able to be challenged by their linear Devils(pah-wraiths)."
Hm, now this is an interesting objection. My first instinct is to agree with the notion that this needed to be fleshed out much better than it was from a sci-fi perspective. But then again so did non-linearity in the first place.
I think part of the problem right from Emissary is that DS9 was purporting to tackle a hard sci-fi issue in a series that was never about hard sci-fi. True, the tech manuals tried very hard to stick to science, and true there was an incredible amount of detailing - even accurate predicting - about the nature and function of starships and FTL space travel. But for all that the shows IMO were always about people and how we need to improve as a species going into the future. The post-scarcity environment is a necessary backdrop to that but the shows do not explore economic conditions. So when DS9 brings up the issues of time, causality, and how advanced beings may interact with a skeptical scientific community (the Federation), we should assume that what we're getting is a backdrop for good character stories. After all, even Data's best stories were never about robotics, but rather always about humanity.
That being said, they *did* bring up the issue, so it feels like a dodge not to go there. In a sense this is a similar objection that I have with VOY, which is not taking its own premises seriously enough. So as you say, we have entities which can literally pick out future timelines as we would pick curtain patterns, knowing full well how and in what way free will (let's say) and choice figure into it. And now the premise is introduced that there is more than one faction of these entities. Is that supposed to mean that these opponents have a different concept for how future timelines should be chosen? Does it mean there is a disagreement about how in fact this process should even be enacted? Is it a moral/ethical difference (about how the decision should be made), a mechanical difference (how the changes should be enacted), or a more fundamental difference (why timeline-alteration should be done in the first place)? We don't know, and it wasn't ever asked. To the extent that he has myriad objections to this whole line, I agree with Elliott and others that the risk of this narrative degenerating into a cartoon version of good vs evil was severe. To an extent it did that. If a good vs evil binary was going to be introduced, evil at minimum would need to include a rationale we could at least attempt to understand. VOY's Year of Hell did do this, to its credit. If someone can re-write the timeline at will, what will be the basis for doing so? Greater good? Some other objective? One's own gratification?
I just can't help but suspect that in DS9's case it was (once again) stealing from JMS's Babylon 5 and almost just interpolating the Vorlons and Shadows into the Trek-verse. And this is putting aside how B5 itself deconstructs the concept that they are, respectively, good and evil in the first place.
Fri, Jun 18, 2021, 7:22am (UTC -5)
Yes it's the boring narrative of good vs evil, but the entire point of the episode is about how far are you willing to keep your faith. What shocked me is Sisko blindly believing the prophets will save his son, but again it's established at the beginning he fully embraced his role as emissary.
As for Wynn, I sorta disagreed with Kira, I think she did it because she feared losing her office of Kai and seeing Sisko take all the glory if the prophet won.
As for ''the prophet'' and '' the paw wraith'' , how can one battle determine who wins , last I checked there was more than one entity on both sides.
Fri, Jun 18, 2021, 12:51pm (UTC -5)
"What shocked me is Sisko blindly believing the prophets will save his son"
I guess I always interpreted it as an Abrahamic situation, where on some level Sisko would have sacrificed his son if that's what it took to protect Bajor.
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 9:23am (UTC -5)
Fair point, I always thought Sisko had some limitations as to his beliefs in foreign deities (especially deities he can figure out are in fact non corporeal aliens), that being said, it came to me as a 180 in his character development.
I know they establish at the beginning of the episode he's fully invested in the role of emissary , I guess that also meant fully believing in their motives and will (which by definition could get him relieved as a starfleet captain , hence admiral Ross confronting him on the subject in tears of the prophet).
Wed, Jun 30, 2021, 3:20pm (UTC -5)
Confused Matthew brought up in one of his reviews (I don't think they are still available for viewing, sadly) that Starfleet just gave Sisko "the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor in recognition of his remarkable leadership and meritorious conduct against the enemy, and in particular for acts of personal bravery displayed during the battle to retake Deep Space 9." So Admiral Ross' "Starfleet or prophets, not both" admonition is totally baseless. Sisko's been walking this line for over six years and was still recognized as an exceptional officer, so where's the problem?
Thu, Jul 1, 2021, 3:13pm (UTC -5)
Would say season 2 Sisko give up Jake that easily , would his judgement be clouded by wormhole aliens to the point of risking his crew , I wasn't kidding when I said this felt like a 180 in his character arc, sure he walked the line , but in reckoning he's fully vested .
Wed, Dec 15, 2021, 11:23am (UTC -5)
"The Reckoning" I've always viewed as one of season 6's "shark jumping moments". From here on the show begins to make a series of baffling decisions which veer things into very hokey territory. Henceforth you can feel the series straining for a new type of "epicness", the political realism of early seasons giving way to a more fantastical, more Star Wars form of mythmaking, DS9 shoehorning weird religious archetypes, Biblical allusions, and superpowers into every corner.
IMO the way the show turns the wormhole aliens into a kind of Abrahamic god - simultaneous all knowing and ridiculously petty - also destroys their "alieness" completely. That they're obsessed with vague rituals and tablets is goofy. That nobody points out their fickleness and psychopathy, is disturbing. That characters like Kai Winn and Dax are still questioning Sisko's connection to them, or their powers, is likewise baffling.
People complain that this episode - and the series in general - degenerates into silliness, but that's the logical conclusion of lots of careless steps taken along the way. Once you commit to Sisko being immaculately conceived space Jesus, and all events being destiny (and so the show's obsession with faith is itself a contradiction), you're going to end up with weird superheroes shooting lightning at each other on the promenade.
I would say this episode has one interesting idea in it; Sisko's need to "sacrifice" Jake. That's a great little conflict, and you can easily imagine a quiet, haunting episode which focuses solely on Sisko and Jake, and Jake's fears that his father has become a fundamentalist.
I'd have started this episode with Sisko receiving a prophetic tablet informing him that he is to take a shuttle, fly over to the Dominion, and personally deliver terms of surrender. If the Dominion surrender to the Federation during this meeting, Sisko is to inform them their Empire will be spared. The prophecy also says Sisko will survive this meeting, the Alpha Quadrant will be spared further warfare, but that Jake will die. Sisko wrestles over whether or not to take Jake with him. The Dominion likewise wrestle over whether to surrender or not; they've seen the predictive power of the wormhole Gods.
No paghwraiths and superpowers needed. Just stick Jake and Sisko on a shuttle and let everybody sweat.
Mon, Jan 31, 2022, 1:58pm (UTC -5)
But I have no problem with that. Early in my ministry career, I encountered a highly placed clergyperson of similarly shallow motives, for whom religion was just the arena in which he'd chosen to pursue his ambition. If he had been told that Jesus was about to return in glory and that his own role as a leader would thus be over, I think he might have tried to find a way to keep Him from coming.
Granted, her character's arc could have been far more interested if she had herself been a person of ardent faith who had a fundamentally different perspective on the will of the Prophets, perhaps ultimately rejecting Sisko as the Emissary. Such a belief might have led to her becoming an anti-Kai, head of a schismatic sect among Bajorans.
But honestly, I think it would have taken a writer with religious faith in real life to write that story convincingly. The more shallow story they wrote was okay.
Mon, Jan 31, 2022, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
"Granted, her character's arc could have been far more interested if she had herself been a person of ardent faith who had a fundamentally different perspective on the will of the Prophets, perhaps ultimately rejecting Sisko as the Emissary. Such a belief might have led to her becoming an anti-Kai, head of a schismatic sect among Bajorans."
I actually think this is somewhat hinted at here and there, but ultimately the reason it happens is because Dukat tricks her rather than because of her true (if erroneous) faith. What we have in her is more like the story you describe, of a politician masquerading as a spiritual leader.
Tue, Feb 1, 2022, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
But believing "that" certain doctrines are true is not the same as believing "in" someone. Choosing to live according to the doctrines is easy when it serves her own ambitions. In this episode, push comes to shove. That moment when she is standing at the intersection of two corridors and must choose (literally) whether to turn right or left is symbolic of the turning point she now faces. When push comes to shove, as it now has, she doesn't believe IN the Prophets the way Kira does, as the center of her life, or even in the way that Sisko has come to believe in them as powerful allies committed to the good of Bajor. She doesn't trust in the Prophets as Kira and now Sisko do (though she has told others to do so, when it served her own ambition).
I think she knows that turning to the right would be the "right" thing to do, but she doesn't have the faith to do it. She knows that Worf has set the controls; with the flip of a switch, she can frustrate the Prophets' plan. She prays that may forgive her, which shows that she knows there is a sin to forgive, but she still flips that switch. In the end, she believes in her own ambition more than she believes in the Prophets. To make that choice when she does believe THAT the Prophets might have ushered in a Golden Age for Bajor is a choice of what we might call hell.
When she later succumbs to Dukat's manipulations to give her allegiance to the pah wraiths, is completing that choice to turn away from the Prophets toward her own ambition.
In a way, Kai Winn's moment at the intersection of those two corridors is perhaps the most powerful moment in all of DS9, yet if you blink, it's easy to miss it.
Tue, Feb 1, 2022, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
Wed, Mar 23, 2022, 3:09am (UTC -5)
For info on the trope: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BeamOWar
Wed, Apr 20, 2022, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Jul 16, 2022, 6:44pm (UTC -5)
Admittedly the wormhole aliens possessing people for a battle was kind of weird and the good/bad makeup and voices was silly. But I think the good parts of the episode more than make up for it, and the battle was at least decently produced.
Lots of great character touches here, particularly Odo/Kira. Odo knows her well enough to know she would willingly let the prophets use her body and he honors that by telling the others. That's good stuff especially since she later thanks him.
Kira explaining Winn's motives to The Sisko makes sense as does she herself being envious of his relationship with the Prophets.
I did think it strange that Winn openly admitted to The Sisko that the Prophets had never spoken to her.
As for Winn backsliding in her views since Rapture-- I can totally believe it. In Rapture, she was temporarily gobsmacked, but ultimately she doesn't really change. The Sisko being the Emissary means she's subservient to him in a sense and that's just not something she can accept.
Winn being able to activate the chronobabble? Well, it's pretty well standard that in the 24th century everything is super easy to use and security practically useless. She was at least there for the meeting when they discuss it.
Mon, Aug 22, 2022, 12:36pm (UTC -5)
Sun, Sep 25, 2022, 12:03pm (UTC -5)
The Cisco, emissaries, monks, magic artifacts, magic wormholes, head trips, mystical hokery-pokery...
Tue, Nov 29, 2022, 1:30am (UTC -5)
Apart from that, I found the rest of the episode pretty nifty. Winn's motivations were apparent, especially as explained by Kira: she lacked faith. You can see it on Winn's face when Kira confronts Winn at the airlock. Winn says that she did it to save Bajour, but she looks like she can't even convince herself of what she's saying. Louse Fletcher did a great job in that scene, of depicting the subtleties of self-deception. This episode denotes the beginning of Winn's descent into the dark side. This is the episode that begins the arc of Sisko vs. Winn and Dukat, right here. Rather than having faith in the Prophets, she chose "sin" which was to doubt her own gods, allowing the evil to remain. While Sisko chose the side of light by allowing the "game" to play out. The Prophets are non-linear entities. They already know Winn's path. Is it any wonder they never talk to her? Even in "The Reckoning", she is instrumental in allowing the evil to flourish. Perhaps her choice to release chronoton radiation is not explicitly explained because later seasons will make this much clearer. The irony is that the Prophets refusing to speak to her sets the stage for her jealousy of Sisko and darkness in her to flourish, which sets the whole "game" in motion.
I think this is why Winn's regression in this episode ultimately makes sense. She is already taking steps toward her destined darkness. The producers of the show already had the rest of the series sketched out. They knew Winn would become evil. It starts in this episode but showing her total obstinance to the Emissary's visions.
I felt this episode wasn't useless at all. It set a lot of things in motion.
Ok, the entities choosing human vessels was a little dumb... but it's not like we would've enjoyed watching a couple of non-corporeal entities fight, right? Main cast characters were chosen to up the stakes so that the audience would be invested. I found it compelling.
I give this episode 3.5/4 stars.
Tue, Nov 29, 2022, 7:45am (UTC -5)
"The producers of the show already had the rest of the series sketched out. They knew Winn would become evil. It starts in this episode but showing her total obstinance to the Emissary's visions."
To be fair I think it was pretty evident she wasn't a real nice lady in The Circle, when she was betraying Bajor to the Cardassians to gain a political advantage. But yeah, maybe this is the one where she's coming closer to admitting out loud where her heart really lies. Then again
she does actually end up on Sisko's side, sacrificing herself to distract Dukat. So her destiny isn't precisely the same as Dukat's.
Thu, Feb 16, 2023, 2:15pm (UTC -5)
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