With every rewatch of the series, I’ve come to appreciate this episode more — almost entirely for the B plot, interestingly. The A plot is good, but for me, the B plot is just so surprising and moving that every time I rewatch, I’m almost surprised to remember that oh, right, it’s not actually the primary focus of the episode.
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.)