So this is the conclusion to the show’s first real multi-parter! And it’s not too bad, actually. I kind of feel like the pacing of the three episodes together is a bit off, but that may also be that it’s been 26 years since it was made, and after years of Peak TV™ my expectations around story beats are different.
More Bajoran political and religious intrigue! Also everyone is in love with and/or horny for Kira, which, you know what, fair enough.
Overall, this one is pretty decent — “The Homecoming”, though it had some good moments, was largely about setting things up, and we get a bit more of the story’s meat in this episode and the next.
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”. Continue reading “2.01: “The Homecoming””
One season down, six to go. And y’all. Y’ALL. Y’all, I am kind of amazed that we’re here, not gonna lie. I half-expected that my ADHD ass would abandon this effort around “Move Along Home” at the latest. I am having so much fun doing this, and am so grateful to the handful of you who are joining me for it.
This also seems like an appropriate place to mention that I was on Antimatter Pod a couple of weeks ago, where we discussed religion in Star Trek! We touched specifically on this episode and Kai Winn, in fact. It was a ton of fun, and my thanks again to Liz and Anika for having me.
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.)
This is another one where the central plot — Weird Space Thing of the Week — is something I can take or leave, but as a vehicle for some great character moments, it’s a delight.
I do have some questions about this particular Weird Space Thing. Primarily: no one ever noticed this before? The Cardassians came down so hard on Bajoran religion and culture in their efforts to “civilize” them, no one ever noticed that this idyllic little village had this weird superstition completely unlike anyplace else on Bajor? No one else on Bajor knows about this or has ever tried to help/investigate? (Come on, you can’t tell me ghost/cryptid hunters wouldn’t know about this and be investigating. Also, good lord where is my spinoff about ghost/cryptid hunters in the Star Trek universe?)
It also seems a bit odd that the chief medical officer on the station is being called for a two-hour trip to Bajor for a medical emergency — I get that Bajor’s still recovering and the infrastructure is shaky, but the Sirah’s condition doesn’t really seem to be anything particularly unusual; there must be someone closer than two hours away who can take care of him. For that matter, aren’t there other medical staff on the station? What if someone has a heart attack back on DS9 in the few days Bashir’s gone? Hell, what if someone just falls and breaks an arm while he’s asleep? This is a recipe for burnout, Starfleet! Teach your officers how to delegate!!!
(I know the village’s magistrate was pretty vague and just told them that they were in danger of extinction, so Bashir assumes it’s some kind of disease, but also…no one asked more follow-up questions? Or, like, thinks to alert the Bajoran government, who are dealing with trying to rebuild their society, that they have what sounds initially like a potential outbreak of some devastating disease on their hands? MY QUESTIONS STAND.)
But back to the topic of character development
Like “Battle Lines”, this feels like another good use of Bashir. Which is to say: they’re embracing the fact that he can be annoying as hell. I’ve mentioned before that it can feel, early on, like we’re meant to find Bashir’s inability to take a hint sort of cute and charming, which just tends to make it all the more irritating (and, when it involves his crush on Jadzia, flat-out gross and creepy). They lean into it here, however, with him being at least as annoying as he is helpful (the way they call attention to the rank difference feels like a very deliberate acknowledgement of the way Bashir’s coming on so strongly makes things really uncomfortable and awkward, for instance). Somewhat paradoxically, the fact that the text is admitting that yes, he’s being moderately obnoxious makes Bashir a lot more tolerable.
Bashir and O’Brien’s relationship will evolve a lot over the course of the series, and it’s a lot of fun, knowing that they end up as BFFs, seeing O’Brien struggling valiantly to hide his low-key hostility. WHOMST AMONG US HAS NEVER BEEN THERE, O’BRIEN? I believe that is what the kids today call a “big mood”.
(It’s also kind of fun, knowing that the primary reason their friendship was pushed heavily later was because the showrunners found out about Garak/Bashir shippers, panicked, and started avoiding putting them in scenes together, given that a large part of the fandom then proceeded to start shipping Bashir/O’Brien. I was never really into that pairing myself, but I *am* into doing things out of spite, so I wholeheartedly support the effort.)
The B plot
JAKE AND NOG ARE SUCH KIDS, BLESS THEM BOTH!!!! That’s most of what I’ve got. I was, however, weirdly delighted by Odo’s little smirk after he chases the kids from their hangout spot above the Promenade. You like the kids, Odo, don’t deny it.
Just. In a world where a twelve-year-old Black child with a toy was gunned down, and the shooting was ruled justified, with many, many voices rising up to defend his murderer because hey, he looked much older and was clearly a scary thug — in a world where the President of the United fucking States stands by his call for the state to murder a group of Black teenagers for a crime they did not commit — it feels really, really important to have this portrayal of a fourteen-year-old Black boy who’s treated by the narrative as just that: a fourteen-year-old boy. Jake Sisko is an awkward teenager who wants to play games, look at cute girls, and hang out with his best friend. He occasionally grieves for his dead mother, fights with said best friend, and needs advice from his father. He’s a kid. And it’s incredibly depressing and infuriating that, nearly twenty-five years after this episode aired, it’s still unusual for a Black teenager to be allowed to act his age.
I also appreciate how, for all that the plot with Varis isn’t treated as anything particularly out of the ordinary, it’s also, when I spend more than a few seconds thinking about it, completely brutal: Varis doesn’t have parents to turn to for help, like Nog and Jake do, because her parents were murdered. She’s a child, and she’s negotiating land rights on behalf of her people because anyone else who could do so was murdered. It’s a really lovely example of what makes Deep Space Nine so memorable: it would be so, so easy to let Varis’s storyline just be straight melodrama, but it’s not. She’s a sympathetic figure, but she’s also flawed; she makes missteps and struggles and, like many other Bajorans, she’s learning how to live in this new world they’re trying to build.
I have one more question
Why does Odo need a bucket, anyway? Can’t he just…be goo on the floor? Maybe he gets crud in him, like when you have to pick lint and cat hair off your clothes. Or…does he not have quarters? I guess if he’s living in the office, it’s pretty rude to other people working there to just be sleeping on the floor.
- Nog’s entirely age-appropriate crush on Varis is pretty friggin’ adorable.
- Bashir is channeling his horniness into enjoying the drama that plays out before him, and it’s also pretty hilarious.
So Wikipedia’s episode list (which I based the schedule on) shows this one as following “Emissary”, as does CBS All Access, but Netflix has it as the third episode, following “A Man Alone”. Apparently Netflix has it in filming order, while Wikipedia and CBS All Access have it in airing order? I was watching on CBS while sewing, so it just started automatically after “Emissary”. In conclusion, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- I feel it’s important to paint a fuller picture I was watching this episode in one of my Pride shirts while drinking and piecing together/fitting a dress, which I feel is the best possible way to watch the introduction of…
- GARAK GARAK GARAK GARAK GARAK
- I love Garak so much, so much, I have so many emotions around him and he’s such a fascinating character.
- LMAO Bashir’s complete inability to recognize what is actually going on when Garak tries to pick him up on the Promenade is second in hilarity only to the Ops crew’s utter lack of interest in his secret agent fantasies. Like, you get the sense that it’s bordering on secondhand embarrassment for some of them.
- I make a lot of jokes about the People’s Front of Bajor vs. the People’s Bajoran Front, but the truth is I eat the Bajoran internal politics stuff up like cake. In terms of TV, the Planet of Hats originated with Star Trek, and DS9 remains true to that in general, but the Bajorans are definitely an example of DS9 playing a bit with some of the franchise’s staple tropes.
- g a r a k
- Speaking of, I was sort of nonplussed by Kira’s going over Sisko’s head to Starfleet, since it didn’t really seem like her style, but my mother, who was watching with me, reminded me that the Resistance’s hierarchy was a lot less formal than Starfleet’s, so going over someone’s head likely wasn’t quite as dramatic a course of action as it would be if, say, Dax did it.
- My father also wandered in about halfway through the episode, and after watching for only a few minutes, commented, “you really need to hit that doctor over the head with the point you’re trying to make, don’t you?” and he was not wrong.
- Between “Cardassian rule may have been oppressive, but at least it was simple” and offering to just straight-up throw the Duras sisters in jail and calling the Klingons to collect them, Odo’s occasional tendencies toward fascism really show up pretty early on. BIG YIKES.
- Bashir, whose horniness is still being misdirected into trying to be the hero in a genre movie: from a Western in “Emissary” to a spy novel here. Garak, fortunately, will be able to help him channel it more productively. I stand by last week’s GET YOUR LIFE RIGHT BASHIR, though.
- Garak, who’s just trying to get back out there and start dating again and saw this cute twink at breakfast.