OK, so my initial thought, actually, is that it feels a lot like Mullibok is meant to be younger? Like, the reluctant respect and affection that develops between him and Kira feels a bit like he was meant to be a bit younger, and for some attraction to develop as well? Apparently the initial vision of the character was as someone significantly “more manipulative and less likable”, so maybe that’s why it feels a bit odd to me.
But more to the point, I FRIGGIN’ LOVE BAJORAN INTERNAL POLITICS. I love, love, love that the rebuilding of Bajor is not a neat, simple, smooth process. I love that people have different ideas about what it will mean to move forward, to build a new Bajor and to live in it, that there are costs to everything, and that there aren’t always clear answers about who’s right. In “The Storyteller”, Kira and Sisko discussed a Bajoran saying, that “the land and the people are one”, but that was really more appropriate, thematically, for this episode.
(This also makes it a bit annoying that every place we see on Bajor seems to have a sunny Mediterranean climate. I mean, I get the Doylist reasons, and Star Trek has frequently just sort of ignored the whole thing where a habitable planet is unlikely to have one single climate all over anyway, let alone a single culture. But it still kinda bugs me.)
In the prewatch post where I talked a little about The Next Generation‘s “Ensign Ro”, Jason and I discussed how we don’t really see much about the struggles and mixed feelings on both sides that must exist between and around those Bajorans who stayed (or were forced to stay) on the planet vs. those who left (or were forced to leave). This is one of the rare times on Deep Space Nine that we get hints of that tension — Mullibok refers derisively to “your precious Bajor”, and isn’t particularly impressed with Kira’s response, that it could be his Bajor, too. The ending isn’t a particularly neat one: there’s no compromise that will give everyone what they want; Mullibok is resigned, not convinced; Kira is resolved, not absolved. DS9 is already starting to become more comfortable with the “shades of gray” that Sisko will discuss with Worf, a new addition to the crew who’s still distinctly uncomfortable with them.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch
I really friggin’ love Jake and Nog’s friendship, as you all know, so I’m on board. My brother, watching this episode with me, said it reminded him of Milo Minderbinder in Catch-22, which is apparently precisely what they were going for, so well done on that score.
There are also some really lovely hints of something that will develop further later on: when the whole misadventure begins, Nog is distracted during his and Jake’s card game while Quark is dressing down Rom. It’s played in the episode as if Nog was simply lost in thought, and there’s no dwelling on whether he might be absorbing what he hears. But later on, it becomes clear that he’s absolutely taken it to heart, that he’s paid a lot of attention over the years to the dynamic between his father and his uncle. Knowing how his story arc will unfold, it’s hard to see that shot of Nog, distracted from his game with Jake while Quark chews out Rom, and not think of season three’s “Heart of Stone”, when, after extensive pressing by Sisko, who’s suspicious of Nog’s newly-professed desire to join Starfleet, he confesses, nearly in tears, “I don’t want to end up like my father”. This episode is, I think, the first time we’ve gotten a real hint of Nog’s ambition, even if it’s largely meant as comic relief at the time.
Also, Quark’s relatively affectionate “Nog, you’re a good boy” made me yell a lot. YES HE IS, QUARK!!!! YES HE IS!!!!!!
Hell yeah characters’ interpersonal dynamics
I’ve referred to it a couple of times previously, but I really love the way Sisko and Kira’s relationship develops throughout the course of the first season. It’s typically just something that’s incidental to the plot, but they’ve gone from mistrust and outright hostility — she literally goes over his head to Starfleet to try and countermand his orders in “Past Prologue” — to mutual respect, and even the beginnings of affection — as with the beginning of “Battle Lines”, Sisko gently teases Kira in this episode with his “I can see why you like him”. And his admission that his own first impression of her was mistaken — “I thought you were hostile and arrogant. But I was wrong. Bajor needs you. I need you” — oh lord you’re killing me, Star Trek.
TL;DR: Sisko and Kira are 100% my BroTP and we’re all just gonna have to make our peace with that.
(I do feel like the show never really wrestles with how weird it must be for them both for one of her coworkers to be an avatar of her gods — like, I’m imagining if the Messiah arrived and it turned out to be my boss, it would be SO AWKWARD AND WEIRD!!!! — but still.)
Also on the topic of characters and relationship developments:
- Sisko has apparently made peace with the fact that Bashir is completely incapable of picking up on subtext, and makes the time to meet with him so that he can patiently spell out what he’s actually saying.
- Jadzia is also starting to feel a lot more like herself, which is to say a pansexual jock who loves to troll people. While she does actually mention later that she always had kind of a crush on Morn, I am also convinced that she is 100% playing it up here in order to troll Kira.
- He’s a one-off character, but I really love that Mullibok goes out to work on tiling his kiln in the middle of the night just to make a memorable exit. That is a commitment to drama, and to avoiding your real problems, that I respect.
- Morn, apparently, for Jadzia, and WHOMST AMONG US can blame him!!!
- Jadzia, slightly, for Morn
- Jadzia, slightly more, for trolling Kira with stories of her dating life
- Mullibok, for drama
- Me, for Sisko and Kira’s friendship and the character development in general