Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Past Prologue

Tahna Los threatens Major Kira with a phaser in the runabout.
Odo: Cardassian rule may have been oppressive but at least it was simple.

Will this be the episode we finally find out more about Major Kira's history? What exactly are the loyalties of each member of our motley assemblage? And is Bashir going to be used humorously in the opening of every Season 1 episode? "Past Prologue" begins to explore the station and its environment more, and we learn more about the conflicts and ideals that underlie the nature of Sisko's new crew and environment.

Bashir continues to not wear on me. When he bursts onto the bridge with his excitement at meeting Garak, it's like a slightly older, out of control Wesley. Picard would never let that kind of emotionalism on the Bridge. Is a station slightly less regimented? The Kohn-Ma are also introduced in this episode: a league of Bajoran terrorists not entirely comfortable with the current peace or sure about their own loyalties. Here, we are introduced to a victim of the Cardassian torture we keep hearing so much about–and in my mind it justifies some of Kira's all-over-the-place anger. Have either Tahna Los or Kira Nerys truly renounced the Kohn-Ma? I note Tahna makes no real promises.

Lursa and B'Etor! I love visitors from ST:TNG, and Odo does a great job staring them down. They also firmly anchor the station in the ST:TNG world. Their part in the Plot of the Week becomes evident quickly when Garak points them out to Bashir–and when it does, all the threads of the episode begin to weave together. You know, I thought someone so blabbery would be a bit cowardly–but he does go back and sit with Garak.

Kira's expression when she thanks Sisko confirms my suspicions. She's a young idealist who's seen a little too much. I also enjoyed the view a second later: the dawning horror as she realizes going over Sisko's head has made their relationship even more tenuous is pretty convincing, and then she goes back to her frustrated all-over-the-place crankiness.

Garak drops his cover pretty quickly when threatened and reveals his ability not only to be a conduit to the Cardassians, but also to make deals on their behalf. Who is this guy? I love him because he's a double agent, and because he seems to be continually hitting on Bashir.

Garak pulls Bashir up close and intimate to share spy secrets.

Julian has no talent in the spy business. Neither does Kira. But her growing pains are the true drama behind this episode. Her idealism has led her to a new identity. Which, apparently, leads to some whining. Can a rap session help her let go of her old ideals? Will she support her old terrorist friends, or hope that she's on the right path now? Odo gives good advice: you can only be true to the you who are now. I love that he doesn't need Kira to tell him what to do: he sees her thinking cross her face and calls Sisko.

Tahna's negative duplicity is matched only by what looks like positive duplicity from Garak. Again, who is this guy? It seems clearly broadcast throughout the episode that Tahna is going to blow up something. A Cardassian or Klingon ship? It turned out to be the wormhole. My logic follows Kira's; it's a mistake. If you blow up the wormhole, you blow up one of the few resources an impoverished Bajoran economy has left (it's already established that their world has been stripped of valuable resources.) In the Age of the Borg, I'm not sure any civilization can afford to be so impoverished. Bajor needs allies, too: even if the price is the hurt look on Kira's face as Tahna's "traitor" registers. The last shot–a nonverbal look between Kira and Sisko–shows the support. The only ally who's been there and even given a modicum of thought to Bajor and Kira's needs has been Sisko and the Federation. All in all we're left with a glimpse into Kira's internal conflicts... and some hope they might, eventually, be resolved.

3 out of 5 Klingon-delivered antimatter bombs. The plot kind of dragged a little bit–I think the wormhole-blowing-up thing was obvious, although how it would work is Gobbledygook Science to me. Also, I think Kira whined just a bit too much.

Bits and pieces:

We meet plain and simple Garak, the only Cardassian left on the station, and a fashion designer, apparently, who appreciates thoughtful young men and double entendres. Maybe he can fix Jake and Nog's clothes.

In another fashion note: Has anyone ever pointed out that our stalwart Klingons are exposing the very center of their chests? I guess some might think it sexy, but my first thought was: ahh, warrior culture. They paint a target on themselves and hope someone tries.

The fashion choices of Klingons tend towards war.

"That Bajoran woman." I dislike the Federation admiral. Is this a sign of racism in the Federation?

Odo's mass bothers me. What happens to it when he becomes a mouse? Does he become an extra-heavy, dense mouse? I bet there's an explanation in the Compendium somewhere.

Remember a couple episode reviews back I talked about miraculous transporter saves? Here's our first for the series, as O'Brien apparently plucks our Plot of the Week from the raging wreckage at the moment he's bending over to shield himself from the explosion.

I'm starting to get some idea of how Sisko works. It's interesting. He likes to play dumb then smack people in the face with how easily they buy it.

Quotables:

Dax: What do you think he might want from you, Julian?
Bashir: I don't know. Federation medical secrets? Rest assured they're safe with me, Commander.
Sisko: I'm sure they are, Doctor Bashir.

Odo: Who are you?
Lursa: We are Lursa and B'Etor. Of the House of Duras.
Odo: And we have specific regulations. You can leave the weapons or leave the station. Your choice. Please make it now.
B'Etor: Who are you?
Odo: I'm the one giving you the choice.
(They hand over the weapons)
Odo: Welcome to DS9.

6 comments:

percysowner said...

Garak drops his cover pretty quickly when threatened and reveals his ability not only to be a conduit to the Cardassians, but also to make deals on their behalf. Who is this guy? I love him because he's a double agent, and because he seems to be continually hitting on Bashir.

Garak is arguably the most interesting and intriguing character on the show. He's a total delight.

Both actors decided to play the subtext of flirting. The show basically was not happy, but the actors wanted to go with it.

JRS said...

I think it's absolutely perfect. Trek generally misses Queer-positive characters; I don't think there are ANY out folks on any Trek episode - though I bet you queer fans number in the millions. Maybe there's a queer-only ship somewhere. This felt natural and like a great touch.

Billie Doux said...

Being as indefinite as I can so that I don't spoil anyone, DS9 was the first Star Trek franchise that had a same sex romantic kiss. It was a BFD at the time.

Mark Greig said...

Not a great episode, the series is still finding its voice, but it gave us Garak, possible the most interesting character in the whole of Star Trek.

Patrick said...

I liked this episode mostly for the struggles Kira had to go through in it. This early in the series she's still coming to terms with the fact that the war is over, and she's no longer a "rebel". I loved the conversation she had with Odo in his office, about betrayal. Her loyalty to her old comrade is admirable, even though his actions already indicated that he'd betrayed her by taking advantage of her position and her trust for his own purpose. She spent so many years fighting for her people, it seems her greatest fear is to be seen as betraying them, or letting them down in any way. But she's surrounded by people and factions who all claim to know what's best for Bajor, and who don't always see eye to eye. Sooner or later, she's going to have to decide in her heart what the right path is, and who to put her faith in. Clearly in this episode her faith in Sisko is lacking, or else she wouldn't have gone over his head to the Admiral. That look on her face when she realizes what it almost cost her was priceless. And I like how Sisko handled it. He didn't confront her as soon as he found out what she did, and he didn't punish her directly for it. He simply wanted her to know that he knew, and that there would be consequences if she tried it again. You could tell that Sisko understood the difficult position Kira was in during this episode. If he tried to force her hand, she probably would have rebelled out of spite. If she was going to act against Tahna Los, it would have to be her decision alone, or he'd lose any chance at her loyalty going forward.

All in all, this wasn't a flashy episode, but it was a strong piece of storytelling with some excellent character development and solid acting performances. Of course, I consider the DS9 cast to be the strongest of all the Trek casts when it comes to acting chops, when taken as an ensemble. We're only beginning to see that here.

Juan Alberto Roche Rodríguez said...

Hi everyone! Great review JRS. DS9 its my favourite Star Trek series and Im really happy you guys are giving it a shot here at Billiedoux.
I have fond memories of this episode. This was the one that made me finally like DS9 (okay I´m kidding, they got me the second the Wormhole opened in Emmisary...), but seriously, this one was the episode that show me that this was not TNG. It was not about the alien or the space anomaly of the week, but about all these people from diferent cultures, diferent historys, diferent opinion living together under the same roof and trying to make it work by leaving their past behind and facing together the unknown that lays beyond the wormhole. It was about exploration, but not only the exploration of space, but the exploration of relationships as well. Nothing says Star Trek to me more than that, and this series in my opinion, showed that better than anyother, specially in this episode. Even after all this years I still found it amazing.
And of course there was Garak! How they never made Andrew J. Robinson a regular in the cast is beyond me, although maybe leaving him that way made him more of a mystery. I love him!