DS9 Episode 1.13 – Battle Lines

In which Kai Opaka sort of joins the undead, and WAR! HOO! GOOD GOD Y’ALL! WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! SAY IT AGAIN.

Memory Alpha says: A runabout carrying Kai Opaka crashes on a planet of eternal war, where it is impossible for the combatants to die. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review:

Okay, this is definitely totally important, because while what happens to Opaka isn’t frankly all that interesting to me for itself, it means the Bajorans haven’t got a Pope, creating a power vacuum at the top of their theocratic society, and so we’re going to get Winn and Bareil and all of that religious politicking and Kira is going to get awkwardly boringly laid (my GOD Bareil is BLAND) and some long-term stuff’s gonna happen.

I’m still just going to do bullet-point reactions. I don’t think I’m going to feel like doing a proper summary of a DS9 episode until about ‘Duet.’ But we shall see. Which one has the Noh-Jay Consortium? I love the Noh-Jay Consortium.

Additionally, I am writing this up while the Grasshopper Pie I just made is chilling in the fridge. It is my first attempt at Grasshopper Pie and if it’s not good I may fling it out a window, because the HASSLES I had with the removable-bottom tart tin the recipe said to use raised my hackles. You heard me, Nigella. Hackles. But it was cute when you called it ‘Ghostbuster Pie.’ I may need to mix myself a Grasshopper to get through the episode. Early DS9: driving me to drink.

  • We enter in mid-conversation about shitty Cardie computer security. Although he isn’t mentioned by name, ‘the last prefect’ who kept these files was, of course, Dukat, and I’m getting tired of waiting for Dukat to show up again, but in the meantime here is a flipping enormous HQ picture of Dukat looking sexy with a baseball. I know he’s a villain and a bastard, but I still would, just once.
  • I like how the little plug-in chips they use anticipate the little USB doofers we now all use.
  • Kai Opaka is a medical specimen!
  • A minor operative! and errand girl! To be fair, Kira, he also wrote that you were a definite BILF, but then he deleted that because it looked unprofessional.
  • Kai Opaka’s kind of a wide load. I hadn’t noticed that before.
  • Why are you following them around, Julian?
  • Ha, they’re going to bother the wormhole just to give the Kai a show.
  • It’s a slow day? So you’re just going to tag along, leaving the station, while you’re on duty? I love Totally Unprofessional Julian, except when I kind of hate him (see ‘Melora’).
  • Is this bit with the necklace (oddly, Memory Alpha calls it an earring, but I watched closely and she’s definitely taking it from around her neck) foreshadowing that Opaka realises she’s going to die, and is leaving a legacy? But why would she want to leave something to Molly O’Brien, who she’s never met and who isn’t even Bajoran? Was there going to be a storyline with Molly having some kind of magical girl destiny which wasn’t pursued? Of course, perhaps Molly still has a magical girl destiny that she’ll pursue when she’s a little older. I think the writers sort of forgot about the necklace – although it would’ve been cool if they’d remembered it during the episode where Keiko’s possessed by a Pah Wraith, and the necklace prevented her harming Molly as she threatened to do.
    Molly O’Brien, Magical Girl is now totally in my headcanon.
  • I really like the teary, joyful performance of the woman playing Opaka as they emerge from the wormhole – and I like the acknowledgement that Kira is a good pilot.
  • So they’re discovering a planet, I’m just not very interested in it because I’m imagining Molly’s magical girl costume. It’s kind of wa-lolita/leprechaun. She has an enchanted shillelagh! Chester and Christina can be her talking animal sidekicks!
  • Well! Investigating was a terrible idea. Your Space Winnebago is fucked and Opaka’s dying. And Dr Boy Genius can’t do a thing. Again, facial expressions – I really like the fixed, aghast look on the dead Opaka.
  • Odo says the runabout party are ‘nearly three hours overdue.’ O’Brien corrects him, ‘three and a half.’ Does Odo not know what time they left? A difference of half an hour is pretty substantial, especially when we’re talking about a world leader’s whereabouts, and especially when we’re talking about old stick-up-his-butt Odo.
  • Poor Kira’s arm is all fucked up. Sisko is still acting like a moai. Julian says ‘For God’s sake.’
  • This is a nice polystyrene rocks cave. Conveniently level, sandy floor.
  • The main prisoner guy said that they stopped using ‘directed energy weapons’ ages ago because they weren’t damaging enough. So what are the zap guns firing, in this little skirmish?
  • Kira Nerys: even freshly bereaved and with a very sore shoulder, she is a badass. I like how BIG HEAVY ROCKS succeed where zap guns fail.
  • Where is Opaka’s pah, or soul, or vital energy? Does her biomechanically reanimated body still contain her spiritual essence, or is that not possible? This is like the whole question of whether what they get back at the end of ‘Lonely Among Us’ is the real or original Picard – or whether anyone is still their real, original self after going through a transporter.
    Theologically, do you think a zombie’s soul has departed (here I mean a George Romero sort of zombie, so I should really say a ghoul) or is it imprisoned in the undead body, aghast at what its shambling, decaying shell is doing?
  • So they’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, but they’re… not very good at it? I suppose the fatalism of realising you’re going to die and come back anyway affects their motivation – but that in itself seems like a good reason to stop fighting at all. ‘We couldn’t be bothered any more’ would be a great reason for a war to end.
  • Ah, O’Brien, you clever, practical fellow. All inventing a differential magnetomer on the fly! I hope you get a patent on that.
  • Kira sits funny. I think it’s actually mostly because her uniform was a bit restrictive – Nana Visitor got criticised for ‘walking like John Wayne’ and pointed out that her clothing made her move that way. This is why the uniform was later made more, uh, feminine, with higher heels on the boots and so on. Stupid Star Trek gender norms. MANLY CHICKS ARE COOL TOO. Nana Visitor, btw, is acting like a champ in this scene, even with clunky lines like ‘I’ve known nothing but violence since I was a child.’ HUGS FOR KIRA.
  • Julian pushed his sleeves up to fix the computer. Does that count as emulating O’Brien? It’s cute either way.
  • Phwoar, look at those forearms.


    Further headcanon: when O’Brien becomes Professor of Engineering at the Academy, all his students have hero-worship crushes on him that they express by pushing up their sleeves.

  • What’s with those fire pillar thingies, and who lit them?
  • Oh, nanites. So this is an interesting application of Wesley Crusher’s science fair project.
  • Julian, smiling adorably: Isn’t that a bit like assisting a jailbreak?
    Sisko, glaring like Julian called his mother a bitch: I don’t need you to interpret the prime directive for me, Doctor!
    Why so keen to squelch, Benjamin?
  • The description Sisko gives of the Federation is actually the first clear definition of what it was given on-screen in Star Trek. Isn’t that crazy?
  • I see the boss of the Nol-Ennis has not let himself go, haircut-wise, quite as much as the boss of the Ennis has.
  • So, they stopped using directed energy weapons because they weren’t damaging enough, but they’ve all kept their pikes and knives, so they could still throw down if a meeting to which they all agreed they wouldn’t bring firearms goes sour.
  • That’s some nice commander-saving, Julian! Good flying leap! The thing is, he is being very useful, and figures out what’s going on, and they would be poked without him – but his reason for coming on the trip in the first place was still irresponsible. Par for the early Julian course.
  • Aw, Julian has pushed his sleeves back down.
  • Opaka says that when they came through the wormhole she knew she wouldn’t be returning – but she gave away her necklace before that. It is very nice of her, of course, to want to stay and help these poor warmongering dumbfucks.
  • Why can’t O’Brien just say hornets? Why is Star Trek so devoted to inserting fake alien animals in all animal similes and metaphors? It’s not actually all that cool.
  • Go euthanasia-facilitating Julian! It’s not your fault they’re buttheads who don’t deserve your help – although that does seem like quick-tie-this-shit-up-type writing.
  • I wonder if Opaka ever really does manage to make a difference on this shithole of a moon? This is the last time we see her, apart from in Sisko’s visions.
  • I got through it without a Grasshopper, but I think now I want to make one just because it’ll be tasty. It’s supposed to be served in a martini glass but I don’t think I have any. Alas! Hell, I could add some of that mint stracciattella gelato I’ve got and make it a booze milkshake.
  • It’s interesting to note, and here I’m drawing from Memory Alpha again, that the writer of this episode commented on it ‘there are certain themes that reoccur in Star Trek, and the fact that war is pointless is one of them.’ In this episode? Sure. When the Dominion is breathing down your neck or the Borg are assimilating your system? Not so much. Star Trek consistently presents going to war in self-defence as morally justifiable, albeit a darn shame. This writer is also responsible for that piece of crap ‘Meridian.’

Next time we return to TNG, for the risible ‘Angel One’ and the pretty-interesting-if-I’m-remembering-correctly ‘11001001.’


5 Responses to “DS9 Episode 1.13 – Battle Lines”

  1. John Says:

    SO, you probably wrote this a bajillion years ago, but I stumbled upon it and just wanted to say…yeah, Opaka comes back. Big time. But only in the (canonical) books.

    Also, I’ve always wondered about the necklace given to Molly. In “Time’s Orphan,” I thought maybe the writers got confused and turned the necklace into a bracelet, which might have been a nod to Opaka’s gift. But, no, I think they just forgot or decided not to do anything with it. As far as I know, the necklace still hasn’t been mentioned in any books.

    • picardigan Says:

      Ah, I never really pay any attention to the books. I just can’t make room for them in my head alongside the actual TV-and-movies canon. But thank you for the info!

  2. Sparklynn Says:

    I dunno if he’d mark Kira as a BILF because Dukat on principle wants to bone almost every Bajoran hottie. Or you know. Any Bajoran that probably has a vagina.

    Also I always thought it was weird that Opaka just up and splits. Partially I feel like this super spiritual lady with access to all these prophetic orbs should have had SOME inkling to the giant shitstorm about to descent on Bajor. It would have been hella useful for her to have stuck around…

    • picardigan Says:

      I suppose the writers realised that if they wanted to have a good shitstorm, Opaka needed to be removed because she was too much of a stabilising influence. It is odd that she apparently stays in complete retirement on the War Zombie Planet and doesn’t even, like, correspond with folks back on Bajor about what’s happening and what they could do about it.

  3. Robert Says:

    The fake alien similes are a pet peeve of mine as well, except when it’s done as a continuity nod or is called back to in later episodes. For example, I think there’s an episode in the second season where someone likens something to a “Cardassian vole,” then a later episode there’s a B-plot involving the station’s vole-rat infestation.

    If it’s world-building that’s fine. If they’re just trying to pointlessly remind the audience that this is SPACE and things are EXOTIC, or if they’re lazily trying to juice up a dull metaphor, then it’s tiresome.

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