The rewatch continues!
Past Prolog is episode 3 according to Netflix. It’s the first appearance of one of my favorite characters, Garak, the simple tailor. And it probably says a lot that when I saw him as a kid, I did not notice how totally fucking gay he is–but this time around, hoo boy. I’m honestly still not sure why Garak was so bound and determined to make friends with Julian, other than Julian needed something to do, and his (thankfully not sex-pest-esque) puppyish innocence in this episode actually make him not a bad choice for Mr. Totally-Not-A-Spy to use as a conduit to get information to the Federation. Because one look at Julian’s face and you know dishonesty isn’t in his skill set.
Anyway, this isn’t entirely a Garak love fest, but that’s the A+ part of the episode for me and a strong start for his thematic constant of “gay, spy, or why not both?” The rest of the episode is about a terrorist from Kira’s past showing up, people double crossing each other, and Kira figuring out where she fits in with the new path of Bajor and what loyalty to her people actually means. It really is Kira’s episode; she also gets to develop her relationship with Odo a bit, and her still slightly antagonistic working relationship with Sisko. You know from the beginning that Tahna is bad news, but it’s not as heavy handed as it could have been. And I enjoyed the Klingon sisters and their anry boob windows showing up as a nice little tie to ST:TNG.
All-in-all, I’d also call this one as pretty solid.
Babel starts off going a bit lighter than the previous couple episodes, which makes sense. Everything is breaking on the station, O’Brien is overworked, and then shit just starts getting weirder as he gets sick. It’s time for a standard “mysterious illness” episode! Something weird is going on! It definitely doesn’t have anything to do with the replicators, promise.
But hey, another chance for Julian to do something, and it’s actual doctoring this time. He gets to explain aphasia to the audience twice. And then the virus becomes airborn! (Can’t blame this on The Hot Zone, which wasn’t published until 1994, by the way. But that’s probably why the virus is causing aphasia instead of explosions of blood.) And NGL, this is my favorite exchange of the episode:
Quark: I’m just here visiting my less fortunate customers to make sure they’re not faking their illness to avoid paying their bills.
Sisko: No one could be that devious.
Quark: Psht. I am.
I know Quark is problematic as hell, but I can’t help but love him at times all the same. (And his friendship with Security Chief Grumpy Pants.)
The fact that the virus is a Bajoran invention rather than a Cardassian one is a nice twist, but it ultimately feels like not quite enough story for the length of the episode, and there’s not much of a B plot. It feels incredibly slow-paced, even with lesbian icon Kira Nerys’s excellent turn at kidnapping. By the standard of random Star Trek episodes, it’s not bad; it certainly didn’t make me cringe. But compared to the previous three episodes, it’s fairly weak.
But let me tell you, this is not a great episode to watch with someone who has a biology degree.