Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Battle Lines   Rewatch 
June 3, 2015 6:45 AM - Season 1, Episode 13 - Subscribe

After showing Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Opaka the wormhole, she, Sisko, Bashir and Kira crash land on a moon in the Gamma Quadrant where the dead come back to life.

Notes
* "Battle Lines" was one of the stunt performer crew's favorite Star Trek episodes, especially for Dennis Madalone, who directed two days of first unit stunt work. Madalone commented: "That's the only one that ever let me take over the whole set. The director said, 'This is fights all day with the actors. Can you just direct it?' So I directed two days of First Unit of all those battles. I was in the fights too, but I made sure I put myself in the back of the battle so I could cover myself separately and still direct all the action stuff. I kept going up to the director and saying, 'Do you like it?' and he would say, 'Yeah, just print it'. He was reading a magazine the whole time. It was crazy, but a lot of fun!"
* Kai Opaka leaves the Alpha Quadrant in this episode, making her final 'real' appearance in the series. She does appear later in "The Collaborator" and "Accession" in orb experiences and orb shadows.
* This episode marks the first time a DS9 runabout is destroyed. The Yangtzee Kiang was later replaced by the Orinoco.
* This episode was one of the first to state exactly what the United Federation of Planets is. Commander Sisko's response to Zlangco's question was that it "is made up of over a hundred planets who have allied themselves for mutual scientific, cultural and defensive benefits. The mission that my people and I are on is to explore the galaxy". Jean-Luc Picard later says something similar to Lily Sloane in Star Trek: First Contact.
posted by zarq (10 comments total)
 
I'll watch the episode later, but one of the things that really struck me (especially as a reader of the post-finale books) is that as large and impactful a character as Opaka is... she really (as a real-person) was only in two episodes. I appreciate that,even if I don't particularly like the character, she's not held up as "themostimportanteverbindsourpeoplehealsoursouls"... then after death is treated as a redshirt. The subsequent jockeying for her position takes a few episodes, and not necessarily the next few episodes.
posted by Seeba at 6:55 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think her absence is felt most in later seasons when Kai Winn, a flawed, antagonistic replacement takes over.
posted by zarq at 7:07 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've watched ahead already and one thing that stands out is how wounded Kira is, and her interactions with Opaka in this episode really start to peel back the layers of it. And conversely, I think talking to Kira helps push Opaka to stay.

Though pulling back, given that Kira's wounds are symbolic of what all of Bajor is dealing with, it's a little surprising that Opaka would abandon Bajor at a moment when there is so much healing to be done there. So that doesn't ring totally true. But of course it's necessary to set up all the political maneuvering that happens toward the end of the season.
posted by dry white toast at 7:33 AM on June 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remembered this episode instantly when I saw Jonathan Banks as Mike in Breaking Bad, who of course plays the leader of the Ennis, Shel-la. He has such a distinct voice though the long hair never quite suited him (I don't imagine barbers a thing in this situation.
posted by juiceCake at 8:24 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Larp Trek for this episode starts around here.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 8:33 AM on June 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


Larp Trek for this episode starts around here.

Probably one of the best Larp Trek bits, especially with Riker/Bashir's weird paranoia toward the Kai.
posted by drezdn at 1:30 PM on June 3, 2015


Kira calls the Kai "Opaka", but she calls Winn "Eminence" or "Kai Winn". I can't say I blame her for wanting to distance herself from Winn-bag though.

What is going on with Kira's shoulder? It seems fine when she's grieving for Opaka, it's damaged a few minutes later, then she's doing rolls on it a few minutes after that.

Opaka entering the light was pretty epic. It's a shame that Saviola was cast in that particular role, as she's such a good actress. Fletcher is also a very good actress, who did really well in her role too, but it's a shame that both of them couldn't have been kept on in some way.

I think it would have been really cool to hear the prophec(y|ies) that Opaka mentioned. I really like the episode Destiny, where a prophecy is explored in more detail.
posted by Solomon at 1:32 PM on June 3, 2015


The Deep Space Nine Companion is a really nifty book for fans of the show, and when I start gabbing here about stuff the actors or writers said, I'm usually referencing something I read there. In this case, I remember one of the writers saying that they got the series up and running and then realized that they'd made a mistake making Kai Opaka such a nice, wise, calming presence. There was no drama there. So they wrote her out and brought in Louise Fletcher, which turned out to be a great change. (I think they went through something similar with Vedek Bareil, where they brought him in and then realized he was too damn nice to be interesting, so they killed him off in a particularly sad, ghastly fashion.)

I saw this episode in reruns a few years ago, and at the time it struck me as one of those early episodes that felt a little fanciful for what the show later became. The premise of the eternal war, with these guys coming back to life to fight and fight forever, just felt like something more appropriate for TNG, or the original series. I also remember having some problems with Nana Visitor's performance, which is funny because I think she is a terrific actor and her go-for-broke approach usually works like gangbusters. I think this was the one where it seemed like she was a little hammy and forced, like maybe she was mugging a little.

I guess I had complaints for this episode that are sort of vague. But I sort of feel that way about a number of episodes from the first season. It's not a bad start, but sometimes things just don't click the way they would later.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:52 PM on June 3, 2015


I guess I had complaints for this episode that are sort of vague. But I sort of feel that way about a number of episodes from the first season. It's not a bad start, but sometimes things just don't click the way they would later.

I feel the same way, and I'm not sure exactly why, but I think a lot of is simply that it is a first season. The writers don't have a past continuity to draw on, the actors are still settling into their roles, and, with DS9 in particular, it's all being done at the same time as The Next Generation, which it has align with (in overall continuity, casting, style, and to a degree themes) while also standing in contrast to it (in theme, in how plots extend over multiple episodes, in how conflict exists between characters).

What we end up with is episodes where the DS9-ish stuff is peripheral (here, the Kai standing in for what would otherwise be a redshirt; Kira's internal struggles over the conflict) but the central plotting ('a world where everyone is trapped in cycle of violence, having forgotten the original cause of the war, and also no one can die') could be straight out of TOS/TNG. The show hasn't quite found it's voice yet, but it's getting there; I'd mark the division (such as it is -- it's a continuum, really) either at the end of Season 1 ("Duet"/"In the Hands of the Prophets") or at the start of Season 2 ("Homecoming"/"The Circle"/"The Siege"), when we start consisting getting episodes that just simply wouldn't work on the other shows.

I'd add that this feels more like an issue in retrospect than it did at the time -- Battle Lines felt like a perfectly interesting Star Trek episode to me, when it aired, not knowing what was to come later. If they'd hewed closer to the TNG format it still would have been a good show, but it wouldn't have been the same show.
posted by cjelli at 8:39 AM on June 4, 2015


Isn't 'Kai' the honorific/title, and 'Opaka' the name? It sounded so strange to me when Kira called her just 'Opaka' -- like someone calling Pope Ferdinand just 'Ferdinand'.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:02 PM on June 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


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