Saturday, March 17, 2012

Whose Hands are You In?

In the Hands of the Prophets
DS9 #421 Season 1 Episode 19
Aired 6/2/1993
Stardate Unknown
Written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe
Directed by David Livingston

Miles and Keiko stop for a jumja stick, those glop-on-a-stick things Nog likes to eat. Keiko is teasing him about Neela, his assistant, who introduced him to jumja in the first place. "It's a natural sweet," says O'Brien. For crying out loud.

I know a lot of people don't like Keiko much, but I enjoy her in this episode, at least, mostly because at no point does she say "Miles Edward O'Brien!"

There is a component of this episode that is relevant today (otherwise known as Type 3 on Roddenberry's list) in which Keiko is teaching about the Wormhole. As a point of controversy, she is teaching that the wormhole is a wormhole, and that it is stable, and that the beings in the wormhole are keeping it stable with their verterons, and that the Bajorans worship those beings as gods.

Now, none of this is untrue. The Celestial Temple is a wormhole, there are beings inside it powerful enough to keep it stabilized which is certainly beyond the comprehension of Federation science (and therefore, by Spock's definition, magical) and these beings have brought great gifts to Bajor that take them on spiritual journeys and also they know everything because they exist outside of time, so one might say they even fit the definition of a god, or at least a higher being of some kind. However, Keiko, being Keiko, is not inclined to take that approach and instead is coming at it from a purely scientific philosophy.

Which is also fine, except at that exact moment, almost like she planned it, this really cranky Vedek named Winn comes into the room and objects to Keiko's teaching in front of the students, going so far as to refer to it as blasphemy.
And she's really simperingly sweet about it too. Personally, I would punch her.

Act One
Neela is very efficient at her repairing of things. She and Miles are working in the Security office. Or, I should say, she is working - she is done by the time he gets there. Miles is very impressed with her abilities and her attitude - not romantically, but think of her as his protege.

And then Miles notices his EJ-7 interlock is missing. What is an EJ-7 interlock you ask? A good question. It's a security seal maker or some such. Basically, it's not something you would want to lose.

Keiko, of course, complains to Sisko, because he's what? The principal? How many thousand people live on this station again? And he's here to, what, oversee Starfleet's presence in Bajoran space? Does the school even fall under his jurisdiction? On the flip side, who else does she have to go to? Anyway, in the course of Keiko's whining, it turns out that Kira is on Winn's side, and maybe there should be a separate school for the Bajoran kids, since their beliefs are different.

Ben responds to this with, and I quote, "My philosophy is... there's room for all philosophies." Okay, great. I'm actually good with that. Now, if Keiko could see that. She could use this opportunity to have the children teach each other about their cultures' religions, or start the lesson with having them each explain their view of the wormhole and the aliens it contains. She could use this chance to open a dialogue that would expand the understanding of everyone in the room, including herself. But I guess Keiko's decided not to stretch her boundaries today.
So Sisko goes to Winn and tells her essentially the same thing but without the whole "room for all philosophies" thing since Kira wasn't particularly receptive to it. It doesn't help the situation that Winn sees him as the Emissary, not the station commander, and Ben doesn't really believe in this whole "Emissary" business anyway. (Yet.) Winn even drags Opaka's name into it for no particular reason.

Does not work. Yeah, instead Winn threatens him. The Emissary of her Prophets. Whatever, don't like her.

Act Two
So now, not only is Mile's EJ-7 interlock missing, so is Ensign Aquino. The tool is made of tritanium, and thy find some weird tritanium in a power conduit, so they decide to go check that out.

What Miles and Neela find is a melted EJ-7 interlock and what is presumably a melted ensign. Looks like an accidental death.

So Miles goes to get his jumja only I guess he can't buy his jumja because the Bajoran who sells it won't sell to him because his wife is anti-Prophets. There's an obvious parallel we're supposed to draw here, with the teaching of Evolution and Creation in public schools, and this is another example of extreme overreaction. Did this guy seriously think that Miles believed in the same gods he does yesterday when he sold him his last jumja? Does he not sell to Starfleet anymore? This is ridiculous. And Miles is offering to leave the station over this? Why? It's crazy to leave when there's still six seasons left and he hates the Cardassians. What's not to love?

Then, as if the jumja thing isn't enough, Kai Winn meets them at the school with a crowd of Bajoran children, and she flat out asks Keiko "Is there a place for the Prophets in your school?"

"No," says Keiko, and then Winn leaves, and she takes the Bajoran kids with her, which leaves about four people. And Neela, watching, for some reason.

As Kai Winn leads the children away, Neela is the only Bajoran who stays behind. But what's interesting here is that Winn is the one disallowing the Bajoran children to remain in school, not their parents. The parents, apparently, are being socially pressured - if they were all right with what Keiko is teaching (which I have to say, I wouldn't be - not because I believe the Prophets are gods but because I believe that "room for all philosophies" means there is room for the Prophets in school and that Separation of Church and State does not mean you ignore the fact that God exists to the people you are governing when you govern) then there would be no point in keeping the kids out of school, and Kira made it plain that Winn is from an "orthodox order" which implies that not all Bajoran religious figures agree with her, and therefore not all Bajorans agree with her, and what are the odds that all Bajorans on the station of thousands of people believe in the exact same thing? Not very high.

Act Three
Everything about Aquino's death makes sense, except "He touched my tools," says Miles, and I guess you don't do that without asking. He wants to keep looking into it.

And in the middle of all that, Jake comes to Ben and asks how everyone can be so dumb. Ben points out what I said earlier, that in this case we know the Prophets really do exist and they certainly have abilities beyond our comprehension and a desire to work for the good of Bajor, so why not ask them for help if you live on Bajor and also, don't judge others if you don't want to be judged.

He also decides to get some help.

Winn is from an orthodox order, you recall, so Ben decides to visit one a little less orthodox. Basically, he's been battling Catholics all day so he's decided to take a break and visit the United Church of Christ in Oregon or something (I was trying to think of something pretty liberal). In fact, he goes to see the guy who is the frontrunner to become the Kai, Vedek Bariel. Bariel seems nice enough. For starters, he doesn't immediately grab Sisko's ear when they meet, an act that Sisko is so used to that he's started flinching subconsciously when he meets a Vedek. He's actually looking for permission to see the Vedek Assembly and get the whole thing sorted out, but they won't see him.

Three of the Bajoran crewmen don't show up for work when Ben returns to the Station. He is not happy.

Julian has established that Aquino died by phaser before being melted or whatever, so clearly not an accident. Thank God you thought to check that before almost ruling it an accident. Oh, wait. *sigh*

Act Four
No one has a clue what the motive would be, but they do have a log that shows he took a turbolift to Runabout pad C before he died. Also, you get this great screen capture from Ben's office:

Miles and Neela go check out the Runabout pad, but they don't find anything there. It all looks normal. Neela sends Miles off to get some rest.

The Bajorans begin to protest the school on the Promenade, and then someone actually blows it up.

Luckily, Keiko is okay.

Act Five
They move school into a cargo bay. The bomb was homemade, and keeping in mind that this was a planet full of terrorists a year ago, that tells you nothing.

And at that moment, Winn decides to rear her annoying pointy-hatted head again and accuse Ben of trying to destroy Bajor, which he's pretty sure the Bajorans on the station won't buy into, but it's the principle of the thing.


I really hate this woman and yet we have six more years of her at this point.

Oh, well. Awesome villain.

And at that moment, Vedek Bariel decides to come take a tour of the station. You get this sense that he's there to save the day, and Thank God. He'll talk some sense into Winn.
We were so naive in Season 1.

Miles found a security bypass module at Runabout Pad A, so they figure out the killer knew Aquino could be traced to C, and therefore moved to A to avoid detection.

He or she must have wanted to steal a runabout.

Neela goes to Winn and tells her the escape route won't work, and she will be caught. Winn, the rat, tells her that if she wants to please the Prophets she has to "do it," despite the fear that she would be executed.

I think we can guess what "it" is.

Lovely woman, that Kai Winn.

Miles secures the runabout pads, and while he's doing that, he finds a file that seems odd, so after a tense decryption scene (only in Star Trek can file decryption seem intense) he opens it and finds a systematic force field override program from the Promenade to Runabout pad A.

Oh my.

Neela follows Bariel through the Promenade, not nearly as excited as everyone else. And they are excited. Clearly they like this guy much better than Vedek Winn. Maybe there should be a regular Vedek on the station so these people don't do whatever whatever Vedek who comes along says.

There is a subspace relay in the security office, in the panel Neela repaired. The one with the weapon detectors in it - to sabotage them. You know how Odo doesn't like weapons on the Promenade? Yeah, he does now.

Miles has to call Sisko and tell him Neela has a weapon on the Promenade.

Bariel and Winn begin a public debate in front of the school. Neela pulls out her phaser and points it at Bariel. Sisko takes her down, but they know she'll never confess to not acting alone.

But Nerys knows it was Winn who planned it. She can't prove it, but she's figured it out- Winn was trying to lure Bariel out of hiding and into the public light so she could assassinate him. That's just... mean. Why? So she could be the next Kai? Because she didn't like him? Who knows?

But the point is, she's a mean, evil, manipulative person who uses the trappings of religion to get what she wants, which may or may not be in the best interest of the people following her.

Wow, I told you this episode was relevant today.

And the best news, after all that, we have won a victory: Nerys doesn't think Ben is the devil.

That's something, I guess.

And that's Season 1, ladies and gentlemen.

Also, a little Winn tribute, if you want a recap of what she is later. (Purely awesomely evil.)

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