I…actually kind of like Bareil in this one? There are times when he almost seems to have a personality! I mean, he doesn’t, quite, but almost!
Apparently the original plan actually was for him to become Kai, and they realized at just about the last minute that there wasn’t really much dramatic potential there, compared to having it be someone like Winn, who isn’t nearly as friendly with Our Heroes.
Of course, a person might, if they were feeling a bit petty, remark that there’s very little dramatic potential for just about anything involving Bareil.
(It’s me. That person is me. It’s been a long week and being snide about fictional characters is surprisingly soothing.)
I found the decision to cover up Opaka’s involvement interesting and poignant, the more so because it wasn’t actually the wrong decision — she made a difficult, painful decision, and sacrificed forty people, including her own son, to save a thousand. Hell, that’s straight-up “needs of the many” right there. But it also makes sense that people like Bareil would be protective of her legacy, and it’s interesting that what seems to haunt him is less the lie itself than the fact that it cost Prylar Bek’s life.
Questions of how much one has to do to be considered complicit, how clean one’s hands have to be for one to be considered innocent — or how dirty they have to be in the “right” way for one to be considered righteous — are among the more compelling themes the show deals with. Hell, with successive rewatches, the failure to wrestle with those questions in one character’s case has become my biggest criticism. (More on that later, but I bet y’all can already guess which character.) So I suppose it’s not surprising that an episode where these questions come up with regards to Bareil is also the first — and possibly only — time I really like him as a character.
“It has recently come to my attention that there are some on Bajor who believe that my relationship with you is not all it should be.”
I really friggin’ love Winn and Sisko’s scene together. Winn and Kira can be really interesting, too, but, by virtue of Sisko’s status as Emissary, he and Winn have a different dynamic, one that generally requires both of them to at least be cordial. For Winn’s part, becoming Kai even without the show of support from him she was aiming for clearly makes her feel a little less dependent on him, but only to a point — he’s still an important figure in her religion. And her dislike isn’t all just cynical politics: Winn mentioned, back in the first season finale, how she struggled with the idea that a non-Bajoran might be the Emissary, and we’re never actually told how she made peace with it, or even if she did.
Sisko’s in a similar position to Winn — as a Starfleet officer, it’s absolutely not his place to try to influence a Bajoran religious matter. But the fact that he’s a significant figure in that religion complicates matters, and it also means that, however much he and Winn might dislike each other personally, or disagree with each other on political matters, the two of them are, to some extent, stuck with each other.
But also, more simply: Brooks and Fletcher are just…a lot of fun to watch in this scene? Each plays the vicious politeness perfectly, and it’s just really delightful.
The show’s Odo gymnastics continue
This episode is definitely one where I spend a lot of time yelling “WHERE THE FUCK DO YOU GET OFF, ODO???” because, like. HE IS ALSO A COLLABORATOR!!!! He worked directly for Dukat! I know I have harped on this before within this blog, and y’all may already be tiring of my talking about it, but the show’s total failure to address or even acknowledge the fact that Odo is also a collaborator felt especially glaring in this episode. I MEAN —
Odo: I remember Gul Dukat telling me once that you were his favorite Bajoran.
Kubus: Really? I never could stand that arrogant tyrant.
Odo: You hid your feelings well.
Like!!!! You were literally talking about the dude with Dukat while you were working as his personal investigator, my guy!!!!!!!
Am I being a little unfair in that characterization? I mean…maybe? Like, fine, there’s an argument to be made that Odo was just trying to survive, except…that’s exactly what Kubus says in literally his very next line: “It kept me alive.” And Kubus couldn’t just turn into a vole and scurry off into the conduits rather than work with the Cardassians. So…¯\_(ツ)_/¯
That said, it was interesting to see the first real hint of Odo’s feelings for Kira — as with the Dominion, I’m often taken by surprise, on rewatching, to realize how early it’s actually introduced, since they don’t actually get together until much later (well into the sixth season). Apparently that actually wasn’t how the writer had intended Odo’s reaction to Kira saying she loved Bareil to come across, and was mostly down to Auberjonois’s performance.
Other things I enjoyed
- “Relax, Quark, no one’s accusing you of anything.” “The day’s still young.”
- Everything about the scene with Quark, honestly.
- Jadzia coming over to check on Kira, which was a really nice little touch, one of the little moments that helps add to the sense that these are real people with real relationships that develop even when they’re not onscreen.
- I really liked at the end, when Kira asked what happens to her and Bareil now, and his response was to ask her what she wanted to happen? Like, what a great answer! As I’ve said in the past, I really love their relationship in theory, it’s just that in practice…sigh.
- Kira, for Bareil, and for once I have stronger feelings about it than just “eh, I guess”, which is exciting.
- Bareil, for Kira, which…I actually kind of believe this time, rather than it just being theoretical!
- Winn, for power, and for feeling self-righteous.