2.10: “Sanctuary”

Hmm. I…don’t really have much to say about this one? There are some good Kira moments, and it’s overall a pretty solid episode, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t really do much for me; most of my notes are just about specific lines or interactions I liked.

There are some interesting subplots and themes going on, but the pacing seems a bit odd — like three or four different things involving the Skrreea felt like they could have been entire episodes of their own: the initial translator issues, an already-swamped Kira being looked to as the main person to handle a first contact situation because the new race views women as best-suited to leadership, Tumak’s desperate ploy with the stolen ship — any one of those things could have been its own episode, let alone the mere fact of the refugee crisis. In general, it just felt like there was so much going on that none of the various subplots had a chance to really breathe.

(I also wondered briefly whether the musician in the opening, Varani, would end up falling in love with Haneek and becoming one of her husbands/leading the movement to let them settle on Bajor?)

In general, though this episode was pretty Kira-driven, we never really got into her head the way we did, say, Odo’s in “Necessary Evil“. The opening scene with Sisko and Kira talking could have been echoed a couple of times, for instance, with him offering her moral support as she faces a difficult situation that she really hasn’t been prepared or trained for in the way that he, as a Starfleet commander, has been, for instance. Hell, we could’ve had a couple of log entries from her! And while there are some great moments between Kira and Haneek, and oof, Nana Visitor just plays the hell out of their parting, I don’t feel like their interactions did nearly as much as they could have to tell us more about Kira.

Or maybe it’s just hitting too close to home!

Apparently the moment at the end, when Haneek points out to Kira that her people are farmers, and Bajor has a famine, and they could have helped them, was actually the original plan for the episode’s ending — that the Skrreea would settle the Trilar Peninsula and help end the famine Bajor was dealing with. Michael Piller was the one who changed it to have the Bajorans refuse to let the Skrreea settle on Bajor, because he felt it was more realistic that people wouldn’t welcome refugees with open arms, and…he’s not wrong!!!! Like, whew, uncomfortable but not inaccurate.

Hell, my main reaction to the ending is that, frankly, finding a planet that can support humanoid life, near Bajor, that doesn’t already have people on it, is also kind of a cop-out. (Also, it’s…kind of surprising that the Cardassians hadn’t already gotten to Draylon II. Wasn’t a resource shortage part of the reason they were expanding so aggressively in the first place? How did this planet escape their notice?) It’s also, perhaps, a bit optimistic to attribute the Bajorans’ unwillingness to let the Skrreean refugees settle on their planet to cultural fear and trauma caused by the Occupation, because on the one hand, that is 100% believable, but also…uh, the people who were on the MS St. Louis would like a word. Or, you know, the refugee children in U.S. government concentration camps right now.

I also can’t decide whether it’s an annoying oversight on the writers’ part or depressingly realistic that all the simulations and projections the Bajorans ran to decide whether the Skrreea would be able to farm the region they proposed to settle without actually consulting the Skrreea about their agricultural practices.

I’d have liked to have seen more of the Skrreea later in the show, too — will they end up joining the Federation later? How did the Dominion war affect them? That may be part of why this episode leaves me a bit cold — after it’s over, there really isn’t any mention of the Skrreea or this incident again. Although, of course, something Haneek mentions does come up again…

Shit’s starting to get real

CRIIIIIPES, this is the second mention of the Dominion in the series, since the first in “Rules of Acquisition“. As I mentioned then, I really like that the show does a relatively gradual reveal of the full scope of the Dominion and the potential threat it could pose to the Federation. In that episode, they seem to be some kind of trade guild, or maybe a crime syndicate; this one makes it clear that they’re powerful enough to overwhelm the people who had initially conquered and enslaved the Skrreea.

Other notes

Uhhhhh why the hell is Jake dating a dabo girl? He’s, what, fifteen at this point? Maybe sixteen? Unless Quark is hiring sixteen-year-olds, which I feel like the Federation would have a problem with, Mardah needs to get her life right. AN ADULT DATING A CHILD IS NOT OK JUST BECAUSE THE ADULT IS FEMALE AND THE CHILD IS MALE, STAR TREK, GOOD LORD.

I did, however, enjoy the minor cultural misunderstanding around Mardah studying to become an entomologist and Nog, who comes from a culture where insects are a major part of the diet, taking that to mean she wants to be a chef? IDK, Jake and Nog are just delightful in general.

  • The looks O’Brien, Bashir, and Odo give each other when Haneek says that men are too emotional and quarrelsome to be good leaders. (Which, honestly, given the state of the White House currently…big mood, Haneek. Big fuckin’ mood.)
  • “It’s hard to keep a secret in Ops, especially when you’ve been shouting at a monitor for the last two days.” “I thought I kept it down to an angry whisper.” I LOVE SISKO AND KIRA’S BROMANCE SO MUCH
  • Nog looking first to Quark, then to Odo, when asking if he can leave Security after Odo brings him in. His two other dads!

I really liked Odo trying to keep track of everyone during the initial walk through Ops, before the translators started working. Also the fact that Sisko was clearly enjoying the whole situation once it became clear that there was no immediate danger to anyone involved. In general I just appreciate that some days Sisko loves his job, and other days he fantasizes about chucking the whole thing and going back to Earth to work in his father’s restaurant; it just feels very realistic and human to me.

Horniness rankings

There actually isn’t much horniness in this episode, which is a change of pace after the last few weeks. Except possibly for Jake and Mardah, which, see above re: Y I K E S.

3 thoughts on “2.10: “Sanctuary”

  1. I think my first thought about this was that it reminded me of other Bajor-centered episodes in which malign developments emerge maybe too quickly to be believed, for plot purposes, but then I looked at the last week’s worth of news, and, nah, it’s realistic that there could be a no-shit famine on Bajor that we hadn’t really heard named as such before. Previous episodes alluded to resource shortages and energy problems, but not a famine – which raises the question of whether or not Starfleet and the Federation are providing any real aid for this? Or is there some prohibition on that because Bajor isn’t a member of the Federation? Or has Bajor not asked? So many questions. I don’t imagine the Federation could solve a food shortage on an entire planet with (presumably) billions of people on it (or that the writers would want us to think that they could), but they have replicators and terraformers who are out there turning dead worlds into paradise spots (per the last episode), so could they not be doing more here?

    Depressingly, I never actually imagined the Bajorans would have said yes to letting the Skreea live on the planet. I kind of think the Bajorans who claim the issue was hotly debated may not even be telling the truth about that, although the episode doesn’t give us any real reason to think that.

    I also thought the musician character (who as far as I can remember doesn’t show up again) was out of place in the episode. He is ardent about getting Bajor to re-open an artistic venue, to recapture their culture, which I suppose was the writers’ way of showing that the Bajorans are losing their way in making these hard, pragmatic decisions about apportioning resources. But the metaphor, if that’s what they were going for, never really comes together for me. If the planet can’t accommodate 3 million people (which is not actually that large a number in planetary terms) without risking their entire resource base, then things must be really super dire (so see questions above about what the Federation is doing to help…?), and you kind of need to be able to eat before you can appreciate a saxophone concert. Then again, the musician implies he wasn’t on Bajor for the Occupation (he speaks of having been displaced). IDK, the character annoyed me. In my head he’s the Bajoran equivalent of Kenny G and is massively overinflating his cultural significance to anyone who will listen, and for some reason Kira is a huge fan, owns all the albums, etc.

    Nog tormenting the kid felt like a step backwards for the character to where he was in season one, and putting racist remarks in Quark’s mouth also felt out of character. OK, they don’t *buy* anything, so being annoyed about *that* was probably in character, but the other comments didn’t seem like realistic Quark issues.

    The end was affecting. Originally I thought the execution was bungled with the ship’s destruction being all offscreen stripping the moment of drama, but I realized that that lets us see the mounting horror and tragic shock from the mother’s point of view – as a sterile blip on a computer screen winking out, and that’s how she learns that she’ll never see her son again. It’s a cynical choice for a cynical episode. And Sisko’s thinking – you know he is – that the kid is not much older than Jake, and is having a “there but for the grace of God go I” moment as the tragedy unfolds.

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    1. but then I looked at the last week’s worth of news, and, nah, it’s realistic that there could be a no-shit famine on Bajor that we hadn’t really heard named as such before

      hahahaha oh godddddddd yes, brb washing down a Xanax with some gin.

      Excellent point about how weird it is that the Federation doesn’t seem to be as involved in the famine as one might initially expect. The whole justification for Federation presence on DS9 being to “prepare” Bajor for entry into the Federation seems like kind of a nebulous goal, now that I think about it? Which I guess isn’t totally surprising from a Doylist perspective, that what that entails shifts depending on what needs to happen in a given episode, but now that I’ve noticed it it’s gonna bug me now and then. There’s been mention before of the fact that without the Federation in the sector, Cardassia will promptly re-invade, and IIRC Sisko himself responds to that by saying that he’s not here just to scare the Cardassians away, but now I wonder whether that is, in fact, the primary Watsonian reason for Federation presence — simply to act as a deterrent, or at least facilitate a quick Federation response if (or, let’s be real, when) Cardassia does try to start shit. Or, more optimistically, to act mediators for disputes that spring up between Cardassia and Bajor during the winding down of the Occupation and the rebuilding of Bajor. I guess during the attempted coup in the three-parter from the beginning of the season, the admiral tells Sisko that since the issue is “internal to Bajor” they can’t interfere, but yeah, upon reflection, I’m a little surprised they decided that would apply to a humanitarian crisis like a famine, too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      Yeah, the whole musician element was just…weird? The point you made that people really need, like, food and shelter before they can spend much energy thinking about music was one that my mother brought up when we were first watching this episode, too. Like some of the other elements of this story, I kept expecting him to be a bigger part of the plot than he ended up being, because yeah, having this famous musician trying to rebuild Bajor culturally after the Occupation in the middle of a famine seems like a good potential source of material for the story — like, of course, there’s the hierarchy of needs, but you could also have an element of “bread and roses”, the question of the difference between living and surviving.

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