I’ve been meaning to get back to my Star Trek rewatches… the ultimate goal is to finish DS9 and finally watch Voyager, which I saw very little of when I saw it air. So let’s get back on the wagon!
It’s a rough start after a long pause, because we’re deep into Bajoran politics and religion with The Collaborator. It’s time for the Bajorans to choose a new Kai, so it’s Bareil as the favorite candidate versus the sleazily manipulative queen of passive aggression, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth Winn. Winn isn’t ready to let power slip out of her clutches, and she sees an opportunity to scuttle Bareil’s candidacy when an infamous collaborator named Kubus shows up. Kubus was the mastermind of a lot of bad shit happening to his fellow Bajorans, though like many collaborators he claims he did it to prevent worse harm.
Where it gets all twisty is that Kubus says he knows who really caused an infamous massacre. It’s not clear if he decides to offer Bareil up to get Winn to help him off the station, or if Winn feeds him that as the fact she wants to hear. But the mud gets splattered on Bareil… and Bareil accepts blame that turns out to not belong to him. Because it was actually beloved Kai Opaka, making one of those deals with the devil to save thousands at the cost of 43 people (including her own son) and Bareil thinks that saving her reputation is more important than saving his own.
I’m with Kira when she thinks that’s not worth the cost of letting Winn become Kai. She’s a goddamn right-wing religious nut. Bareil saying that it’s just up to them to somehow influence Winn into being less completely awful is not something that sat well with me back in the day, and even less so now. Protecting the reputation of a woman who can no longer even try to do good for Bajor at the cost of putting a goddamn fascist in charge is an absolutely hideous choice, and a cowardly one. Honestly, from all the hints at the beginning of the episode that show Bareil having some kind of doubts or showing uncertainty make me think that’s why he took that way out.
Anyway, it’s a pretty complex episode from a moral standpoint. Kira’s line, “A good man does not betray his people,” really hits hard when you find out the culprit was Opaka… and in a way, Bareil has also betrayed his people because he’s trying so hard to be good that he’s handed them right to the worst possible leader at the worst possible time. Or he already feels like a traitor because he’s covering for Opaka and let a vedek commit suicide over the matter, so maybe to him this feels like a path to absolution–boy is he wrong.
Also, doing a little outside reading about the episode, it sounds like the writers were originally planning for Bareil to become Kai… but then at the last minute, they realized Winn being Kai would be way, way worse for the Federation, and thus would be much better for the story. Which is a good point. When in doubt, take the plot option that makes things worse for everyone involved.
Next episode is Tribunal, which starts with Chief O’Brien going on vacation. And that means either the station is fucked, or O’Brien is fucked, or maybe both. That in the next scene, O’Brien meets up with an old colleague who has weirdly settled in Cardassian space, and the guy apparently takes a recording of his voice…
Yep. O’Brien is fucked.
Miles and Keiko get pulled over just hours into their vacation by Cardassians, who are way out of their space. Miles gets arrested and abducted back to Cardassia prime in an incredibly authoritarian scene where they demand to know if he admits to his crime but refuse to tell him what it is. Oh and then they strip him naked and rip one of his teeth out. And then they call the Federation to let Keiko come to the trial where the verdict has already been decided–he’s guilty, unsurprisingly–and then Odo steps in to volunteer as O’Brien’s “Nestor” thanks to the time when the Cardassians occupied the station.
Oh, and O’Brien’s execution has been scheduled for next week.
This is a great line from his assigned lawyer: “I am here to help you concede the wisdom of the state. To help you accept the inevitable with equanimity.” Confession is good for the soul on Cardassia, you see. It’s even better for the populace. No need to worry about what you’ve been charged with; it doesn’t really matter. “This trial is to demonstrate the futility of behavior contrary to good order.”
Law and order, people. All crimes are solved, all criminals are punished. This is an episode that certainly still feels relevant today.
Of course it’s a set up; O’Brien is accused of helping the Maquis and the evidence has been planted. It’s all for show. And the trial is literally a show–all of Cardassia is watching. And his lawyer is not pleased about this, because he’s a year away from retirement. It’s on the edge of farce, except for the fact O’Brien is to be executed.
The amazing part is watching the archon immediately reverse herself when Sisko shows up with the Cardassian plant that framed O’Brien. Suddenly the Cardassian court has mercy, and it’s never made any mistake. The silent threat to embarass the Cardassian government in front of all the citizens is all it takes to get them to backpedal, and apparently everyone will just pretend that none of this ever happened.
Honestly, I love it when Star Trek has an excuse to do a courtroom drama, and this one was quite delicious. Fritz Weaver playing Kovat (O’Brien’s useless lawyer in this pantomime, who goes stentorian and Shakespearean in his complaints every time O’Brien or Odo go off script) and Caroline Lagerfelt as Chief Archon Makbar (who somehow never changes her assured tone between condemning O’Brien to death and congratulating him for furthering relations between the Federation and Cardassia by learning so much about the Cardassian legal system) are the icing on the cake for this episode.