Meredith’s Analysis: This is DS9’s three-parter, and it’s a great out-of-the gate opening for the second season. We get the most important development on Bajor yet – it really is like the wild west, full of competing factions and corruption, everyone scrambling for power in the vacuum left by Kai Opaka last season. These are the first episodes that raise, for me, a question that is ongoing throughout the series: maybe Bajor is in such disarray because everyone there spends so much time scheming and having intrigue rather than actually, you know, running Bajor? Like, when was the last time anyone on that planet filed any paperwork?
They are also the first episodes that actually show us the chaos on Bajor and make it feel real. In the first season, all of the Bajoran “unrest” consisted of groups of Bajorans on the station shuffling around and yelling, and it was kind of hard to imagine that there was a whole planet of people with an actual society experiencing actual unrest. In these episodes, the danger seems very real, and we spend the most time we’ve ever spent on Bajor. We also get some good development on the Bajoran ministers, who play an important role in the political intrigue of Bajor.
These episodes also do a great job of further developing characters (Jadzia’s weird girliness aside). Sisko is way more badass than he ever was in season 1, and you can tell Avery Brooks has found and committed to the character. Kira is much more nuanced than she’s ever been (“Duet” excepted), and the hilarious little character flourish of Irishy loving army rations is great.
I think the only real weakness here is Li Nalas, who ultimately serves his function (dying nobly and being a martyr), but who never really lives up to the hype that the rest of the characters build around him. I guess that’s sort of a point in and of itself, since he was always supposed to be a man who stumbled into legend status by accident.
Tim’s Analysis: Kai Opaka’s departure may have left a power vacuum on Bajor, but it’s not as though she was filling the space very well herself. In these episodes we learn that the power structures of Bajor are anything but settled following the departure of the Cardassians. Some hints were previously dropped along these lines and let’s face it, it’s no surprise. Bajor was under Cardassian occupation for 50 years. Functional government is not exactly something that crops up overnight. Characters talk about “unrest”, but this episode shows us that Bajor is a beehive full of civil war. Remember that Bajor has to be peaceful for a while before they can join the Federation. They’re not exactly working on that very diligently.
These episodes have some really fun parts, but my favorite is absolutely the scene in Kira’s quarters where everyone shows up at once. Intended as an homage to A Night at the Opera, it was actually filmed as one uninterrupted take, but was later broken up in editing. The timing is flawless and it’s a very light moment in an otherwise very serious story arc.
The arc itself really shows off what DS9 can do. TOS and TNG both never show us any follow up. The Enterprises get into some shenanigans, win the day and zip off on another adventure while some admiral assures the captain that it’ll be sorted out thanks to him. In this case, Sisko is told that it’ll be sorted out and that he should leave and he chooses not to.
I disagree with Meredith that Li Nalas is weak. I think he’s actually great. He represents the regular Joes on Bajor that are being jerked around by the political machinery. His legend is used to further a political agenda and in the end, he sticks around to help take it back, even without a real obligation to do so, and ends up dying bravely, only cementing the legend or confirming that he was that hero all along, maybe just not quite in the same way.
Overall, this arc is good, but it starts to drag in the middle. It probably could have been squeezed into 2 episodes if they had tried.