Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Rapture

When Sisko gets struck by inspiration – and lightning – he begins to experience visions of the past and future, and finds a mysterious lost Bajoran city, B'hala.

Critic's Log, Stardate 20208.15. The Prophet is an important part of Ben Sisko, but I'm not going to pretend it's one I fully understand, and my lack of understanding is a wonderful thing. It's one thing when understanding is muddied by poor writing or acting; that's not the case here. Instead religion and mystery come together with science fiction to create a sense of wonder in this episode.

When the fortunes of the occupation and independence bring an ancient Bajoran relic home, Sisko uses holodeck technology to discover a clue to the location of an important Bajoran spiritual center, B'hala, a lost city. In the process there's some sort of technical glitch (or is it?) and Sisko experiences an electrifying shock which leave him, ironically–given his use of future technology to identify the location of a past city– inspired by the finding of a relic from the past with the ability to perceive truths about the future.

At the same time, a great event happens: Bajor is accepted as a member of the Federation! The protection and conversion of Bajor had been a major goal of the work on Deep Space Nine. And the gift that Sisko has received from the planet he has come to love, becomes a wedge that Sisko himself must drive between his chosen career and the world that chose him as its prophet.

What I love about this episode is how it pulls no punches. Sisko faces harder and harder decisions at every turn. At first he seems almost overwhelmed with his excitement about B'hala and love of Bajor; Admiral Whatley coming down to the surface to go "hey, why you ignoring my texts" seemed almost shocking for Sisko. Then he's confronted with the reality that the continued commitment to these visions might wind up with Sisko a vegetable. Finally his choice to continue receiving the visions despite the medical issues makes Kasidy and Jake beg him to change his mind. Kai Winn, in some ways, is used as an objective mirror to Sisko's own story; when Kira questions the Kai's motives in coming to Deep Space Nine, Winn replies with a story explaining how, when she herself had come under trail, she had had no weapons save her own faith. Neither, here, does Sisko; in the end, when Jake decides to tell Bashir to take away the visions, Sisko is helpless to stop anything.

I also love Sisko and how he receives the visions themselves. He's always seemed troubled and scarred by life. Now, finally, a lightness and understanding comes upon him. He knows how life can get, but he also sees something bigger.

Finally, I love the mysticism in the middle of Star Trek, the shrouded mystery of the 'locusts', the insistence on the importance of faith in a series that's always made triumph the daughter of science. It was hard for me to see Sisko go against the Federation, at the end, and convince the Bajorans to hold off on accepting the invite. This is going to have a consequence. But seeing his loss of the visions was even more painful. I was glad he was able to have some reconciliation, but wow, this series does like to hurt its characters.

Scratched on the padd:

GRAMPS WOULD BE PROUD: Loved that Jake was cooking, and the callback to the life stories of these characters. Every time they do this it just adds to the richness of this series

ZOCAL'S THIRD PROPHECY: When the prophets touch you, you find cities. I guess that makes sense; it seemed weird that nobody noticed a reflection for thousands of years, in what's possibly the weakest logic jump to me in this episode.

SISKO'S INSIGHT VS. SISKO'S VISIONS: Sisko did the impossible in this episode before he did the impossible! He found B'hala without a vision, using his own intelligence, insight, and his own station's holodeck.

THE FAITH OF KIRA: Kira and Sisko have a weird relationship. This episode shows it clearly: a mingling of friend, comrade in arms and the devotion of fanaticism.

THE KAI: Kira and Kai Winn had two deep sessions which signaled a huge character shift for the Kai. What will her future interactions with the DS9 crew look like, now that she has a change of heart about Sisko?

Heard on the Promenade:

Dax: I take it you think the Federation membership is going to be good for business?
Quark: Of course it is. This station is going to get busier than an Alvanian beehive. I'm expecting to do five times the volume in root beer alone. You see, it's all about foot traffic. The more people come in, the more they drink. The more they drink, the more they talk. The more they talk, the more they let slip things that I shouldn't know, And that, that always leads to latinum.
Worf: Perhaps so. But there is one problem.
Quark: What's that?
Worf: There is an ancient Klingon proverb that says, You cannot loosen a man's tongue with root beer.

Sisko: I was there.
Kira: Sir?
Sisko: B'hala. It was the eve of the Peldor Festival. I could hear them ringing the temple chimes.
Kira: You were dreaming.
Sisko: No, I was there. I could smell the burning bateret leaves, taste the incense on the wind. I was standing in front of the obelisk and as I looked up, for one moment I understood it all. B'hala, the Orbs, the occupation, the discovery of the wormhole, the coming war with the Dominion.
Kira: You could see the future as well as the past?
Sisko: For one moment, I could see the pattern that held it all together.
Kira: You were having a pagh'tem'far, a sacred vision.
Sisko: Hell, I don't know what I had, but it felt wonderful.

Kira: Chief, I know you're worried, but the Prophets are leading the Emissary on this path for a reason.
Worf: Do not attempt to convince them, Major. They cannot understand.
Dax: Since when did you believe in the Prophets?
Worf: What I believe in is faith. Without it there can be no victory. If the Captain's faith is strong, he will prevail.
Dax: That's not much to bet his life on.
Kira: You're wrong. It's everything.

Overall

A touching and poignant episode, which left us with questions about everything. Five out of five bursts of lightning.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

I loved this episode and how it explored Sisko's role as the Emissary, and examined the concept of Faith. I tend to group this in with episodes like "Destiny", "Accession" and "The Reckoning", and I love them all. Faith and religion are subjects that rarely come up in Star Trek shows and movies, and even more rarely are they done well. But this show's willingness not only to explore those topics but make them a major part of the story is part of why Deep Space Nine will always be my favorite Trek.