DS9 Episode 1.20: In the Hands of the Prophets

In which Keiko will not teach the controversy.

Memory Alpha says: Orthodox Bajorans object to secular teachings about the wormhole in the station’s school, causing tensions between fundamentalists and the Starfleet crew. (Season Finale) (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
Well, it’s only taken me a few months to get to the end of the first season! This does also mean that my DS9 and TNG seasons are going to get out of step, because TNG’s Season One was 26 episodes long. Actually, what I think I’ll do is just finish up all the TNGs in season one after this, then start the second seasons together. Then I’ll get out of step again, because TNG Season Two is short due to a writers’ strike. So I’ll just pull the same catch-up thing in the opposite direction. It’ll all come out in the wash.

This episode sets us up for so much STORY, with the introduction of Vedeks Winn and Bareil. It’s unfortunate that Bareil is so bland and uninteresting, apart from his Claudia-like affection for big beaded earcuffs, because he never really feels like an equal and opposite force to the fantastically awful Vedek Winn. I mean, even her name is Winn. That’s got to tell you something about what a great antagonist she is. I greet her every appearance with a gleeful ‘That bitch!’ and a rubbing of hands. I suppose I should count down until someone says she reminds them of Umbridge from the Harry Potter books, and yes, I see what you’re saying, but WINN ÜBER ALLES.

Anyway, on we go, and bullet points ahoy because I’m lazy! Pretend we’re watching this together, and I keep leaning over and saying things, until you really want to punch me, but I made all these savoury muffins and cupcakes to enjoy with the show and it would seem ungracious.

  • O’Brien loves his ice lollies. And I love how he managed to make ‘from the sap of the jumja tree’ sound like a line from ‘Jabberwocky.’
  • I like how ‘she working out any better than the last one?’ obliquely references the recasting that I mentioned last time.
  • Keiko, while I respect your right to mess with your husband’s mind, implying that something he’s been sucking on is an analogue for a dick seems a trifle cruel.
  • At least she was only teasing him, but flip, with Keiko you never really know. Okay, I’ll chalk that up as a non-toxic marital interaction, because they do sometimes have those and it’s important to give credit where it’s due.
  • Keiko’s voice is sounding really nasal today. I wonder if she has allergies?
  • I like the fishy eye on the kid that Winn decides needs a shoulder-petting.
  • I think what I like so much about this conflict is that they actually are both factually right, but Winn is the one who needs to stfu because while Keiko will acknowledge the Bajoran point of view, she won’t acknowledge the Federation one. And, you know, it’s nice to see Keiko be morally as well as factually right. I am not actually gunning for her to be awful.
  • Blasphemy! Blaspheyou! Blaspher everybody!
  • Awww, O’Brien, you’re sweet. The actress playing Neela is called Robin Christopher. That’s just silly. Pooh the Winnie. Actually, I was looking down the cast list on Memory Alpha and there’s an extra called Jeannie Dreams, which is a total stripper name, or maybe a good roller derby name for my friend Bunny.
  • Who’s been rummaging through O’Brien’s toolbox? Never rummage through O’Brien’s toolbox. I tell you what, Miles, pop Christina in there as a surprise for the next person who tries it.
  • So you thought a confrontation like this was inevitable, but you didn’t bother to warn the person likely to be confronted. Early Sisko has nobody’s back.
  • It’s been months and months since Opaka died, hasn’t it? How long does it take to pick a Kai, I wonder? Do they have anything like a college of cardinals?
  • Usually I am down with Kira, but Keiko’s is not a faith school, and the number of Bajoran children she teaches does not mean that she has to give Bajoran RE. And you have to remember, Kira, the Federation is an extremely secular organisation. STFU and start a Sunday school if you want to help. And I ask again, are there secular Bajorans?
  • The Bajorans’ temple really is beautiful. I’m a sucker for votive candles.
  • I like to think that Winn’s speaking to Sisko while she still has her back turned to him was just a gamble that paid off – or that she saw his reflection in some of the brass on the altar.
  • How awesome is Vedek Winn? She wears the Sydney Opera House on her head!
  • Yeah, good luck getting the most stubborn bitch in the Federation to ‘recant.’ Your only hope is that she will flip-flop for no apparent reason, like she did about getting married.
  • Hey Neela you look guilty. I think Neela’s quite a nice name, actually. I’m trying to think where I know it from, because I’m sure I know another fictional character called Neela. Of course. Neela Rasgotra from E.R. I thought Parminder Nagra was better than Keira Knightley in their debut feature, Bend It Like Beckham, but Knightley’s the one who’s ended up in big-deal movies while Nagra has mostly done TV.
  • Oh, man, someone left plastic vomit in the Jefferies tube.
  • Oh, man, the plastic vomit is Aquino!
  • THE MEAN MAN WON’T SELL O’BRIEN AN ICE LOLLY. O’Brien is so angry he grabs his shirt and threatens him – never get between an Irishman and his ice lolly!
  • O’Brien is so upset about the ice lolly that he’s going to transfer! I love how a frozen treat is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
  • I think Winn’s still fondling the same kid’s shoulders! And he’s so creeped out by her.
  • Ha ha ha go for the evolution bit, Keiko! Legit cheering you on, here – dig your heels in and be as stubborn as you like.
  • I also love the fact that Winn positioned herself up the steps from the O’Briens.
  • Hmm, I guess Rom still hasn’t let Nog go back to school. Also, none of these kids are as awesomely dressed as the ones in ‘When the Bough Breaks,’ but there’s a little girl with a corrugated forehead and great hair.

    That is some Sailor Moon shit right there.

  • Darn right he should have asked! That’s just basic manners.
  • I’m stoked that Keiko also dragged Galileo into it – I hope tomorrow’s lesson is Darwin. And yes, Sisko makes a valid point that smug asshole atheists aren’t any more pleasant than smug asshole fundies. Awwww, and I like him holding Jake’s hand, too. He’s always better in scenes where Jake is present.
  • Beautiful matte painting of Bajor, looking all Tuscan and gauzy.
  • The garden in this scene is the same one Data used for whistling practice in ‘Encounter at Farpoint.’ I believe Sisko is standing beside the same stream that Wesley fell in.
  • DON’T THROW ROCKS YOU’LL WAKE UP THE BALROG.
  • well clearly Bareil is a good guy because he doesn’t grab your ears. I can’t think of anything cool about him though. The same actor played Frank Black’s brother in an episode of Millennium, I guess that’s cool.
  • Should I think anything of the fact that Bareil started his monastic career as a gardener, and Garak ‘worked’ as a gardener during his Obsidian Order service, and former Admiral Boothby is now a gardener at Starfleet Academy, and what is Star Trek suggesting about gardeners, eh? I guess at least Bareil and Keiko could have a nice chat about potting mix and pruning.
  • That long frock seems like slightly impractical gardening wear.
  • Well, of course the Federation is godless. And proud of it!
  • That earcuff is fantastic. It’s practically a wind chime.
  • At this stage, because he’s so specifically painted as a very monastic dude, I had assumed Bareil was celibate, so it really weirded me out when he developed a thing for Kira.
  • Ugh, Sisko, don’t bully Kira – she turned up for work. You’re taking out your frustration with other people on her.
  • Oh, hello Julian, you’ve been playing CSI again I see. You definitely get to solve lots of mysteries in Law & Order: UFP. Data’s going to decide you’re his second-best friend, and refer to you as such with no real concept that it could be hurtful. It’ll be adorable.
  • Kira is indignant that she thinks a Bajoran would have killed Aquino just because he was Federation, but just last week a Bajoran killed Marritza just because he was Cardassian. I’m just saying.
  • It is hitting me again and again how much this show is Mysteries In Space early on.
  • O’Brien: A runabout? What was he doing in a runabout at four in the morning?
    Odo: Apparently he was (pause, mentally puts on sunglasses) getting murdered.
    YYYYYEEEEEEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH (skyline of Miami)
  • Of course she’s not like that with you, O’Brien – you’re adorable and cuddly and gruff and hobbitty. And you get flustered when people call you nice. Oh please, she was not hitting on you.
  • I like the little condiments on the café table –  a bottle of oil and two smaller bottles of, uh, something. Sprinklies.
  • I still have trouble believing that Quark pals around with murderers. Has them in his address book, sure, but that’s not the same as being friends.
  • SHBOOM THE SCHOOL BLEW UP. Drama aside, setting off an explosion like this inside a space station seems incredibly dangerous and foolhardy. It doesn’t really make whoever’s point if the hull is ruptured and everyone on the Promenade is spaced.
  • Oh, as if you didn’t set this up, Winn.
  • Live without a soul? Pah! He eats soul food all the time. Damn good soul food.
  • And Sisko’s going to make a speech. The Starfleet officer’s ultimate weapon – unless you count the two-fisted club.  You messed up now, Winn. Neela clearly feels like shit, standing there clutching her LCARS lunchbox.
  • I can imagine being one of those schoolkids, thinking ‘Dayamn! Even when the school gets blown up she still expects us to come to class!’
  • You know, Bareil is more fun if you mentally recast him with Nestor Carbonell. Unf! The eyelashes!
  • It actually looked like that monky guy was reassuring Winn, which was interesting – what is he to her?
  • Ha ha ha, Morn is in the crowd waiting to meet Bareil, and he pushes right up to the front and gets a handshake when he comes through the airlock! Based on this and ‘A Man Alone,’ I believe that Morn joins crowds and mobs purely on principle, in case something interesting happens.
  • I always like seeing O’Brien and Dax work on problems together – they make a very good tech team.
  • I love how Winn goes for the ear and Bareil very smoothly intercepts her hand and draws it into a clasp – and pets her hands, you flirt Bareil. Her hand in his as they walk away is so cramped-up and unwilling – lovely, lovely body language from both actors.
  • Ah, the very panel Neela was working on before! The scales fall from O’Brien’s eyes. Bummer, man.
  • I really like Neela’s trance-like look as she makes her way through the crowd. She must be almost in a dissociative state to work herself up to do this – I think I’ve read that this is one of the signs by which you can recognise likely suicide bombers (and I know this how? it was in a Jack Reacher book of course).
  • Winn hates having her hand held by Bareil. It’s awesome.
  • And here comes Neela through the crowd like a little grey ghost. And Sisko gives a ridiculous slow-motion ‘Noooooooo.’
  • Fortunately for Bareil, after all that trouble to get a phaser onto the prom undetected, Neeila is a terrible shot. Look at this.
  • Sisko displays hitherto unseen leaping ability and shoots through the air like a flying squirrel to tackle her.
  • And I do believe Kira’s faith in the religious establishment has just taken a kicking.
  • ‘I don’t think that you’re the devil.’ Awwww, that’s such a compliment. Although really, is there an equivalent to THE devil in Bajoran mythology?

So that’s the end of Season One, and although far too much of it has been bland or silly or monotone, there’s been some really fine work scattered through it, particularly from Rene Auberjonois, Armin Shimerman and Nana Visitor.

Next time we return to TNG for ‘Heart of Glory,’ a terrific episode for Klingon-lovers everywhere.

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4 Responses to “DS9 Episode 1.20: In the Hands of the Prophets”

  1. innocentsmith Says:

    God, Bareil creeps me out. He’s not as bad in this episode, though I think the writers oversold the, “Hi, I am a Cool, Liberal Priest” angle. But he’s just so dead-eyed and flat most of the time, while going through the motions of being Mr. Sensitive: he keeps reminding me of the slightly-too-old guy at a college party who keeps insisting he gives the best backrubs. Possibly as a lead-in to killing you and putting dismembered body parts in his fridge.

    What is it with Bajorans, anyway? The women are fascinating badasses (Ro, Kira, even Winn in her own way) and the men are so dull. Sometimes I wonder if the casting directors had some kind of portfolio of dull, blandly handsome actors they referred to when they needed to cast Bajoran guys.

    Louise Fletcher is a goddamn powerhouse of acting. And I quite like Keiko in this one: she’s so much better when she has a function in the story other than “wife; see: nagging.”

    • picardigan Says:

      Possibly as a lead-in to killing you and putting dismembered body parts in his fridge.
      Or asking you whether you like Huey Lewis and the News.

      I think you’ve got a point about Bajoran men and women. I mean, I’m not going to complain because I love having some fascinating badass women in my Star Trek, but it never feels as if the men can keep up with them.
      No, they can't.
      So you have to put a man from another culture, like Odo or Dukat, into a scene with them for it to actually feel like something interesting is happening.

  2. Tea Drinker Says:

    I am also very creeped out by Bareil. I keep expecting it to be suddenly revealed that he’s actually evil. It’s very hard to play a purely good character without coming over as creepy, and this actor isn’t quite up to the job.

    Louise Fletcher is amazing though and even manages to pull off that overly symbolic phallic hat with aplomb.

    • picardigan Says:

      And then there are characters that the script is trying to present to you as purely good but they come over as creepy ANYWAY, like Jacob from Lost, and characters that the writers have to crank all the way into supervillainy because the audience finds them TOO sympathetic, like Gul Dukat.
      Of course, the reason Dukat works so well is that you CAN love him, he IS a lovable man, but at the same time he has done terrible things and justifies them to himself and you would be nuts to overlook that.


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