2.01: “The Homecoming”

All right, y’all, season two! Let’s do this!

To start: my notes for this episode contain many, many repetitions of “LET LI NALAS LIVE”. Like. Oof, this poor son of a bitch. Even before the revelation that his famous heroic act wasn’t what it was made out to be, the amount of pressure on him was just…really kind of brutal to watch, honestly? Just. The guy has been a prisoner in a labor camp for how long now, maybe at least give him a couple of weeks with a therapist? Or at least to just hang out quietly on Risa?

It resonated a lot, honestly, with life in the U.S. in 2019. I’ve heard so many activists talking about trying to avoid burnout, struggling with trying to find the balance between taking care of yourself so you can continue fighting the rising tide nationalism without falling into complacency. Hell, I’ve struggled with it myself: when am I recognizing and respecting my own limits, and when am I being self-indulgent? And lord knows my life has been much more comfortable than Li Nalas’s.

Taking a larger view, I really love that the show resists the temptation to make the Bajorans into saints who, in the absence of Cardassian oppression, immediately build a utopia. I mean, from a practical standpoint, there wouldn’t really be a show if that was how it worked, since the whole reason for the Starfleet presence is to help them recover. But it’s also realistic about the political reality of a power vacuum and instability, and the effects of trauma on a people-wide scale. Traumatized people aren’t saints, they aren’t villains, they’re just…people. Sometimes trauma causes a person to make decisions that hurt them and/or others.

Kira pointed out in the very first episode that Starfleet’s “we’re here to help” is precisely what the Cardassians said. She’s spent the past year working side-by-side with Federation people. She’s come to trust that they really do mean it, that their version of “helping” is not the same as the Cardassian’s. But — and this is where I do have a slight criticism of the show — it’s not really clear how much people on Bajor have had the same experience. The mere existence of a “Bajor for Bajorans” movement suggests, to me, that there’s some kind of a Federation presence on the ground, but thinking back to scenes on Bajor, we never really see any non-Bajorans (and later, once in a long while, when the plot calls for it, some mixed-race Cardassian-Bajoran orphans). I’d like to have gotten a little more of an idea what things look like on the ground on Bajor — it would give a better sense of how much of the Circle’s origins.

It’s just nice to see the gang back together

As with Dax just staying in Sisko’s quarters and helping herself to dinner after he leaves in “The Nagus”, Quark remaining in Kira’s quarters after she runs off is weirdly hilarious to me??? Everyone on this station is such a mess and I LOVE IT.

Speaking of Dax, this is also, on consideration, one of the first times — perhaps the first time since “The Nagus”? — that we’ve actually seen her and Sisko really relaxed and talking with each other like old friends. I know it’s primarily because this season is when they started figuring out how best to use Jadzia, but it also works well from a Watsonian perspective, with them getting over the awkwardness of their changed dynamic and finding their way forward as friends again.

Some other character moments and interactions I loved:

  • Sisko’s resigned expression when looking at the earring and asking if Kira is sure it’s genuine.
  • “Major, I can’t loan you a Starfleet runabout without knowing where you plan on taking it.” “To Cardassia IV, to rescue a Bajoran prisoner of war.” “You’re right, I wish you hadn’t told me.” I! JUST! LOVE! THEM! SO! MUCH!
  • “Is there anyone on this station she didn’t tell?” LMAO Benjamin you know as well as I do that Kira has exactly zero chill.
  • Jake’s delivery of “I can see you’re not ready to have this conversation yet.”
  • “Where are you going?” “To bed! To dream of an equal share of profits!” YESSSSS FUCK HIM UP, ROM, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BUT YOUR CHAINS
  • Quark trolling Odo by helping him is the actual best.

Horniness rankings

  1. Since this is before they’ve introduced Dukat’s horniness for Kira as a thing, he is instead just annoyed that she’s cockblocked him while he’s Skyping with Sisko.
  2. Rom, for WORKERS’ RIGHTS!!!!!!!
  3. Quark, for:
    • Trolling Odo
    • Kira, although, perhaps realizing that she will not hesitate to murder him, he actually demonstrates some self-control and is not super-gross about it?

2 thoughts on “2.01: “The Homecoming”

  1. This episode struck me as mostly setup for things to come, which is fine, but I didn’t feel it succeeded all that well on its own merits. The accelerating political and religious discord on Bajor escalating to violence felt like it came from nowhere as a contrivance. I know they set some of this up in the previous episode and I get how this moment in Bajoran history makes sense as a point where a group like the Circle could feasibly destabilize the provisional government (especially with covert Cardassian support), but if they’d done a little better at seeding this back in first season I think it would have been more successful.

    Li Nalas toiling away in obscurity in some POW camp … man, I don’t know. Why wouldn’t the Cardassians have executed him publicly, on Bajor, in order to break the morale of the resistance? Is the implication meant to be that they didn’t know who he was or how important his reputation was? That’s not very believable for as meticulous a force as the Cardassians. Beyond that, I kept expecting him to play a larger role in the episode than he did. (I get that was the point – that his reputation far outstripped his actual capabilities or ambitions – but if they’d drawn this out over a few more episodes it might have worked far better.)

    Sisko + Kira 5ever

    Just a nagging point – Sisko sends O’Brien along with Kira to liberate the camp on Cardassia IV, which makes sense from a plot perspective, and I’m a fan of using O’Brien in this kind of plot because it lets him showcase his professionalism as a soldier and in this case lets us see that he’s perfectly willing to lay down his life in a mission for Kira, specifically, if she orders it – that’s pretty big. But it always strained credibility for me how characters on this show were completely proficient in anything the plot asked them to do. O’Brien through his Starfleet career has been a tactical officer, a transporter chief, a chief of operations (engineer basically) and now suddenly he’s an expert helmsman of a class of starship that Starfleet didn’t even have until this year? (Maybe Runabouts existed before and we never saw them.)

    Also, using a runabout to stage the raid is pretty effing stupid if your intention is to maintain a veneer of Federation non-involvement. IT HAS U.S.S. GANGES UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS PAINTED ON THE SIDE, BENJAMIN, COME ON.

    Overall I felt this episode was fine but the longer story improved on it considerably, and as a standalone it’s pretty forgettable.

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    1. Also, using a runabout to stage the raid is pretty effing stupid if your intention is to maintain a veneer of Federation non-involvement. IT HAS U.S.S. GANGES UNITED FEDERATION OF PLANETS PAINTED ON THE SIDE, BENJAMIN, COME ON.

      LMAO right??? Like…it’s great that they were able to talk their way out of it when they were stopped by the Cardassians before they got in visual range, and I get that they weren’t planning to spend a lot of time actually on the ground, but you gotta figure someone might actually, like, look out a window at some point and notice the FEDERATION CRAFT there.

      And agreed on both counts re: O’Brien. This is a really neat use of him — I really like when we get some interactions between him and Kira in general, actually, because, as you’ve said, it showcases his background as a soldier. Hell, the two of them both have enough direct combat experience with Cardassians that they’ve got a lot more in common than they might seem to at first glance, and they tend to work together in a really cool way. (This also makes the surrogacy storyline when Visitor got pregnant a lot of fun, since they got along well but suddenly had this much more intimate relationship dynamic sprung on them.) But yesssss, I admit that O’Brien is hardly the only case of Trek having everyone have whatever abilities a given episode requires, but he’s definitely one of the more glaring examples of it.

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