Synopsis: Kai Winn, who has taken up the leadership of Bajor’s government following the First Minister’s death, asks Kira to settle a conflict with the leader of her old Resistance cell.
I enjoy this episode, but I think it really needed to be longer — a lot of the story feels pretty rushed, and I would’ve liked to have seen more of the fallout of what was happening, both on Bajor and on the station. (I can’t believe that, if Sisko was telling the truth that he hadn’t spoken to Kira since she went into the hills with Shakaar, there wasn’t a lot of discussion about it on the station, and perhaps attempts to make contact besides — or at least a lot of frustration over the inability to do so.) Ira Steven Behr said as much as well, that the ending in particular felt far too abrupt to him. As I said, it’s still enjoyable! Louise Fletcher is in top form, and is always great to watch with Nana Visitor and even more so with Avery Brooks. The B plot, while fairly insubstantial, also seems aware of its own relative unimportance, and doesn’t really overstay its welcome.
Shakaar himself is a character who I feel like they could’ve done a great deal more with — both the character and the casting were in the hopes of findings someone who would be able to hold his own in scenes with Kira. Certainly he has a lot more presence than Bareil, but I feel as though he’s underused; he actually only appears directly in three episodes, which, especially once he and Kira get involved, seems like a waste of a lot of story potential.
Something that does kind of bother me in this episode is the insistence upon blaming Winn for Bareil’s death. From an emotional perspective, I get why Kira would blame her; grief isn’t a logical thing and it’s understandable that she’d be looking for someone to hold responsible. But also…Bareil was an adult who made his own choice! He chose to prioritize negotiating the peace treaty with the Cardassians over prolonging his own life. So while I understand why Kira, as a person, would blame Winn, it’s annoying that the show seems to expect the audience to blame her as well.
Like, I don’t argue that Winn isn’t ambitious and opportunistic, or that she doesn’t make bad choices in her quest for power. But this is definitely an instance where I think the show is unfair to her. Bareil made the choice to conduct the negotiations that required the journey where he was injured in the first place, and then he made the choice to continue the treatment that caused his death rather than going into stasis so he could heal. Hell, Kira was one of the people telling Bashir to keep going with the treatment, specifically because it was what Bareil wanted — which raises the possibility that blaming Winn is, in part, a projection of her own guilt over doing so, and it’s a shame that the show doesn’t really seem to pick up on that possibility or examine it. This might be another reason why this story might have worked better as a two-parter, or even a multi-episode arc taking place on Bajor while other stories were happening on the station — perhaps Kira’s continuing to perform religious rituals for him, for instance, isn’t just about grief over losing him, but guilt. Maybe that has a lot to do with why she threw herself back into the Resistance — returning to the things that she feels more familiar with, and in the process surrounding herself with people who are important to her and whom she hasn’t lost yet.
Basically, this is a solid enough episode, but I feel like it needed to be longer, perhaps even multiple episodes. This is a bit of a shock to see myself writing, as someone whose main criticism of just about every movie I’ve seen in the past few years was “it didn’t need to be that long”! But there were a lot more potentially interesting story threads that could have been explored, and I think more time to meditate on Kira’s overall character arc, and her relationships with other characters, could’ve taken it from good to great.
Speaking of Kira’s relationships with other characters
Oof, everything about Kira and Sisko’s first scene is lovely. I feel like, as things have progressed, we’ve had fewer scenes between the two of them, and less about the development of their relationship. And while I enjoy seeing their relationships with other people develop as well, I’m still sorry for the loss. The two of them are in similar positions, both somewhat removed from the other staff: Sisko is the commanding officer, and Kira is, nominally, his first officer, but she’s not Starfleet, and so isn’t, strictly speaking, actually under his command; she’s the foremost representative of her government on the station just as he is the Federation. Their personalities, too, make for some really interesting interactions; Kira wears her emotions on her sleeve, while Sisko keeps a much tighter rein on his emotions. I consider a lot of the first season fairly forgettable (not bad, for the most part, just not particularly remarkable), but as I’ve noted previously, one thing I genuinely love about it is watching Sisko and Kira learn to work with, and eventually trust, one another.
(Arguably, now that they’ve gotten to like and trust each other, there isn’t as much need for a lot of one-on-one time, but Visitor and Brooks are always so interesting together that it’s a shame nonetheless.)
All of which is to say that it’s so lovely to see Sisko’s consideration for her in this scene — that he initially apologizes for interrupting her at her prayers and offers to return later, and that he felt the news about the First Minister’s death and Winn’s appointment should come from him personally. And, not to belabor my earlier point, I wish we could have seen more of Sisko’s reactions to what was happening throughout this episode (and others back on the station, as well).
- Kai Winn, god love her, remains deeply horny for power, and also, to a lesser extent, for drama.
- Kira and Shakaar won’t actually get together for some time yet, but they’re definitely horny for one another already. Him more than her, but there’s definitely some horniness — emotional, at the very least — on her part, as well.
- This feels like the place to mention that Shakaar has a cute butt. He could get it, honestly.