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Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Sanctuary

Kira can't seem to catch a break; she's arguing with the provisional government on Bajor, arguing with Sisko because she's arguing so much she can't do her job, and now three million refugees are coming through the wormhole looking for help. What's a girl to do?

I didn't like this episode because it felt so badly written people can watch it and miss a bunch of important facts. Like in the VERY BEGINNING Kira's arguing with the provisional government about somehow irrigating the Trilar Peninsula, and frustrated because the government won't do anything. After the Skrreeans arrive and declare themselves, they identify a peninsula, somewhere in the northwest, where nobody is living. But then their immigration/sanctuary gets rejected by the Bajoran government – and Kira supports that rejection, effectively complying in further bureaucratic postponement of the goal she was arguing for in the beginning. Unless the viewer makes the connection that these are the same – Peninsulae? (Is that the plural?) – the last scene, where Haneek describes her dream of providing food to Bajor and using her Mystical Farming Powers to resolve the famine doesn't quite have the same punch. Once you realize that it becomes clear this episode is heavy on the irony and ought to have a Lot of Meaning, capital letters intended. Maybe I'm being too picky, but it felt like the needed clarity for those vital little moments got lost in the mix.

And then anyone with common sense blinks and goes: "Didn't Haneek say her people were imprisoned and forced to do manual labor for 800 years? Do they still recall their Mystical Farming Power Skills after generations of rock breaking etcetera? And weren't they escaping from an oppressive people, the T'Rogorogorowhatever, who were conquered by even bigger badasses, the Dominion? Do you not think the first place they would check for their escaped refugees would be, wait for it, the first planet right next to the wormhole?" I felt the proud speech Haneek made at the end was totally spoiled by my brain having such thoughts.

And let's talk about the nonsensical ending in which a child tries to force the issue of immigration by stealing a ship from the Federation and crash-landing on the planet, ultimately blowing itself up and causing much pointless trauma to everyone concerned. All it proves is that accidents happen even when the government leaders work together.

The Skrreeans are an interesting race – maybe only the second or third in the Trek universe that claims to be matriarchal, if not entirely matrilineal. Their stupid and emotional males have to be a tongue-in-cheek joke on the fact that men often claim women are too stupid and emotional to have political positions. I loved the fact that the universal translator took time to absorb their language, and that when it did, the crew and the Skrreeans discovered some amusing mistranslations. Their refugee status was pitiable and believable. I thought their semi-mystical search for the Eye of the Universe and escape to search for Kentanna potentially had a lot in common with the Bajorans and their Prophets – but overall I felt there were so many weird logical gaps I kept getting thrown out of the episode.

Bits and Pieces

Armin Shimerman's wife, Kitty Swink, plays Minister Rozahn in this episode.

I was surprised the Federation didn't intervene more. I'm not sure how developed the Skrreean society is, but it would seem it comes under the heading of the Prime Directive somewhat or that the notion of 3 million refugees received on a Federation station would raise some flags about putting them on Bajor.


Kira: Is there anything wrong?
Haneek: I'm just not used to the men being here. Skrreean men don't involve themselves in situations like this.
Dax: Are all your leaders women?
Haneek: Yes.
Bashir: All of them?
Dax: You heard her, Julian.
Haneek: Men are much too emotional to be leaders. They're always fighting among themselves. It's their favourite thing to do.
(Kira and Dax carefully look down. The men look at Kira and Dax.)
I'm sorry. I hope I haven't offended anyone.

Kira: Are those your husbands?
Haneek: Hus-bands? I'm not familiar with that word. They're bonded to me.
Kira: Do you sleep with them both?
Haneek: Of course. Don't you sleep with your males?
Kira: No, I don't have any males. Not at the moment, anyway.
Haneek: They're very useful.
Kira: Yes, I can imagine they are.

Rozahn: I'm afraid the decision of the provisional government is final. The Skrreea will have to find somewhere else to live.
Haneek: (to Kira) Please, talk to them. Tell them they're wrong. Help us.
Kira: I can't. I'm sorry, Haneek, but they're right. I wish they weren't. I wish Bajor was Kentanna, but it's not.


Some nice moments, some nice acting, way too much implausibility. One out of four skin-flaking cranky teens.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, this was a bit of a weak episode, and I'm really not even sure what that whole business with the stolen ship was supposed to be for. To be honest, I feel like DS9 has been in a slump for the last few episodes, other than the terrific Necessary Evil.

    That said, I was really struck by the fact that the episode may be more topical now than when it was written. TOS and TNG often feel very dated to me. DS9 has a much more contemporary feel, in its concerns, in its less utopian view of the Federation, and even in its structure. If I had just been shown the scripts of all the star trek shows, I'd have guessed DS9 was the most recent iteration of the franchise.


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