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Entries in Deep Space Nine (2)

Monday
Jan022012

Past Prologue

Episode Guide/Review by Erik Wiklund

Season 1, episode 3
Stardate Unknown (2369)

Episode 3 of 173 Produced in Deep Space Nine
Episode 2 of 173 Released in Deep Space Nine
Production Number: 40511-404
Original airdate: January 10, 1993

Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Written by Katharyn Powers

 

Guide Sections

Synopsis
Social Commentary
Strengths
Flaws
Additional Thoughts
Memorable Quotes
Remember
Final Word
Rating
Guest Cast


Synopsis

A Bajoran fugitive is chased into Bajoran space by the Cardassians. As his ship breaks up, he is beamed onto Deep Space Nine. The man is Tahna Los, a freedom fighter and an old aquaintance of Major Kira. He was a member of a particularly hardcore terrorist group known as the Kohn Ma and Sisko grants him asylum. The question is, has Tahna Los really abandoned the violence and accepted that the war is over? And when the chips are down, does Kira know where her loyalties lie?

 

Social Commentary

The story of Bajor is one of the things that makes Deep Space Nine stand out among Star Trek shows. Of course, in Trek mythology, the Bajorans represent spirituality. They embody the controversial idea (for many fans) that there might be a place for religion in the far future, even in an advanced society.

But aside from this, Bajor also represents a level of political complexity that we are not used to seeing on Star Trek. The Bajoran people are the victims of decades of oppression, so throughout the run of Deep Space Nine they are dealing with the fallout of the occupation. The society is rebuilding, but also dealing with traitors, war criminals and freedom fighters that are not ready to lay down their arms. Of course, as shown within this episode, Bajor must also deal with the outside world. After suffering years of Cardassian rule, embracing the Federation might not be the first thing everyone wants.

 

Strengths

“Past Prologue” stands out among the early Deep Space Nine episodes because it is the first real attempt at showing the frailty of the Bajoran situation. This is the fallout of war. There are always people out there who are unwilling or unable to adjust to a post-war society. That is the case of Tahna Los. He is more inclined to keep fighting for his band of brothers than accept a victory that did not turn out exactly the way he imagined it would. The threat of civil war on Bajor looms large over the first season. “Past Prologue” outlines one of the conflicts pulling the Bajorans away from each other, and it gives a sense of realism to the whole situation.

At the beginning of the series, Kira is just starting out on a personal journey, dealing with the things affecting her whole community. “Past Prologue” is a first taste of Kira finding her way out of the rubble of the occupation. Meeting Tahna Los puts her in a situation where she herself has to make the choices that all of Bajor is struggling with. The scenes between Kira and Tahna Los effectively illustrate the political conflict that is taking place within Bajoran society.

 

Flaws

Kira’s dilemma is not always portrayed with subtlety. Later on in the series, she will be placed in this position again, in episodes that are slightly less heavy-handed in their writing.

The Duras sisters are not an impressive pair of villains; they are basically boring old TNG-style Klingons falling all too easily into Garak’s trap. 

Bashir’s scenes make him look silly, even moreso than he usually does early on in the series.

 

Additional Thoughts

One of the things that makes Deep Space Nine such a special part of the Star Trek universe is the way in which the ideas that it explores is so much larger than what we get in the other series. Certainly all of the Star Trek series have addressed racism in various ways, but I don’t believe any episode delivers as poignant a message as this one. Not only that, but—as DS9 so often does—the bigger picture is always in play here as well. We see Benny’s colleagues and Sisko’s crew shift in and out of realities at key moments, and even Sisko’s role within the Bajoran religion is not lost on the streets of 1953 New York. And, as we will see later in the series, this little excursion to the past will play a role in the resolution of the larger DS9 story.

 

Memorable Quotes

“You know, some people say that you remained on DS9 as the eyes and ears of your fellow Cardassians.”
“You don’t say! Doctor, you’re not intimating that I’m some sort of spy, are you?”
“I… wouldn’t know, sir.”
“Ah, an open mind, the essence of intellect.”
– Bashir and Garak

“You should have heard him. He introduced himself and he struck up conversation. Just like that, he was making contact with me, with me of all people.”
“What do you think he might want from you, Julian?”
“I don’t know. Federation medical secrets? Rest assured, they’re safe with me, Commander.”
“I’m sure they are, Doctor Bashir.”
“In fact, Chief O’Brien, I think you should place a monitoring device on me. Well, just in case he…he’s up to somehing?”
– Bashir, Dax and Sisko

“I suggest you get your priorities straight, Major, because I don’t have any room for divided loyalties in this command and I won’t have a Kohn-Ma terrorist using this station as a protective shield for continuing violence.”
“My priorities are straight, Commander. Let’s not be confused here. My loyalties are to Bajor and Bajor needs men like Tahna Los.”
– Sisko and Kira

“Someone has to coordinate relations between the Federation and the provisional government. At least with someone like me here…”
“Why? Why should they be here at all? What right does this so called provisional government have to bring them here? All we fought for, Kira. Freedom from domination, true independence. No outsiders, no Cardassians, and no Federations.”
– Kira and Tahna Los

“How could I possibly turn against my own people?”
“Are they? Your own people?”
“They’re no different than I used to be.”
Used to be?”
“I could just refuse to help them. Ignore the whole thing.”
“The Joranian ostrich hides by sticking its head under water. Sometimes even until it drowns.”
“And they’d find a way to do whatever they wanted to do anyway. And I’d still feel responsible for the consequences. It was so much easier when I knew who the enemy was.”
“Odo to Sisko. There is someone down here in Security who wants to talk to you, Commander.”
– Kira and Odo

 

Remember

The Bajoran skepticism over the Federation presence in their sector. At the beginning of the second season, it will come into full bloom.

 

Final Word

“Past Prologue” is in no way a perfect episode. Actors and writers are still finding their way with these characters, and with the complexity of the material that the show is taking a first stab at. But it does give a sense of what kind of show Deep Space Nine wants to be, and what Bajor is going to mean to it. In a first season with plenty of episodes of questionable depth (and entertainment value), the qualities of “Past Prologue” should not be underestimated.

 

Rating

 (6 out of 10)

 

Guest Stars

Jeffrey Nordling as Tahna Los
Andrew Robinson as Elim Garak
Gwynyth Walsh as B’Etor
Barbara March as Lursa
Susan Bay as Admiral Rollman
Vaughn Armstrong as Gul Danar