Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Battle Lines

Kai Opaka comforts a grieving Kira.

Kira: "We're trapped on this moon with only his forces between us and damnation. We have to defend ourselves to stay alive."

A short runabout trip turns awry as Sisko and his command crew meet a seemingly immortal race trapped in perpetual war.

The plotting for this episode seemed kind of a mess. First, the Kai comes to the station and manipulates the staff into sending half of its command crew on a pleasure tour through the wormhole; they wind up in uncharted territory somehow, where a local planet has orbiting war satellites that shoot them down. Why are they nearby this planet? How is its system close enough to the wormhole so that the command crew could just be pulled in – and nobody's seen it so far in the season? I mean, this is space, folks. Planets don't just appear from nowhere. The Kai Opaka has a very compelling face, however, and I only thought of these questions afterwards; while watching, it seemed entirely natural that this wise woman could smile her way to free trips and unknown planets. Seriously. You can see Sisko's cogs turning: "Well, it IS her first time off Bajor..."

The crash-landing is terrible and well-done, and the Kai dies in the process. Down on the planet, Sisko, Kira, Bashir and the Kai face a seemingly untenable situation–two groups, locked in eternal combat. This reminds me very strongly of the Old Series episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." Quite soon Sisko and the rest discover the modern spin on the old story: the dead Kai comes back to life. Bashir immediately begins to try determining why; he soon learns the equivalent of medical nanites are resurrecting anyone killed on the planet.

Major Kira grieves for the Kai.

Sisko demonstrates why he's Commander: in a couple of days he's holding a peace summit. It fails, just as in the Old Series episode, and in the process Bashir has time to find the catch: the immortality only lasts while you're on the planet (I guess they're lucky they figured it out before they began evacuating two armies' worth of people.) O'Brien comes through and invents completely new types equipment to rescue the team, with the help of Dax. By the end of the episode, the Kai has chosen to stay in the new environment and try to bring the people involved to peace. She accepts their offer to research potential cures for her death, but asks Kira to explain her choice to the people of Bajor. The show's telegraphing her return though–she tells Sisko that they'll meet again.


In many ways this is a Kira episode: we get insight to how the Major's history has formed her character. She hasn't yet dealt with her recent history or the violence within her, and perhaps this is a good ret-con for why her self-control is poor throughout the first season. She made me think of some veterans I've had the privilege to work with.  I'm still hoping to see more development for this character, and for Bashir, who seemed curiously wooden throughout.

Bits and pieces

--A bit of a spotlight here on the Dax and O'Brien subplot, finding and springing Sisko and the rest. As scientists, they represent polar opposites: what Neal Stephenson called the artificer and the hacker, I think. Dax works with existing knowledge and technology to find solutions, hacking existing data and programming. O'Brien creates new solutions, jury-rigging new tech.

--What will happen now without Kai Opaka? Are we going to see a Bajoran civil war? I had the idea she was one of the major threads holding the world together.

Quotables

Dax: The magnetic deflection of a runabout's hull is extremely weak. The probes will never be able to detect it.
O'Brien: They will, if I can outfit them with a differential magnetomer.
Dax: A differential magnetomer. I've never heard of a differential magnetomer. How does it work?
O'Brien: I'll let you know as soon as I've finished making one.

O'Brien: Exactly. See, they're putting out a mutual induction field that would block out ninety nine percent of all transmissions to and from the surface.
Dax: Is there any way for us to get a comm. line through the field?
O'Brien: Well, I've got one percent to work with, don't I?

Kira: Is there a cease-fire?
Sisko: Neither side took it seriously.
Opaka: I'm not at all surprised. You were right, Kira. They don't know how to do anything else but die. They've forgotten how to live.

Overall

2.5/4 miracle resurrection medical devices. A lot to write about, a bit of character development, and I wish I could like this episode more, but the plot holes and hackneyed, overused one-race-divided-in-twain-we-can't-even-remember-why-we're-fighting trope limits what I can give.

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