Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Collaborator   Rewatch 
September 20, 2015 2:04 PM - Season 2, Episode 24 - Subscribe

Bareil is accused of collaborating with the Cardassians during the Occupation.
posted by Solomon (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This one didn't do much for me on first watch or rewatch, mostly because Bareil is such a bore.

Really the most interesting thing for me about this episode is speculation. Like how exactly does the Kai selection process work? Is it like the U.S. two-party election system, where if one candidate drops out, the other pretty much is guaranteed a win? Because in "In the Hands of the Prophets", it's established that Bareil is the leading candidate for Kai, his ideology is dramatically different than Winn's, and that Winn's order "is barely listened to" in the assembly. It seems like there ought to be someone else closer to Bareil's ideology who could step in, unless Bareil withdrew too late for a substitute to be found.

I also wonder if Bareil protecting Opaka was maybe not the best thing for Bajor. Like if he'd thrown Opaka under the bus, and got elected Kai, he could have groomed a successor candidate, and prevented Winn from becoming Kai even if he died as early as he did in canon.

(I know that on a Doylist level, Winn as Kai served the writers' purposes far better than Bareil would have. I just enjoy analyzing things on a Watsonian level sometimes.)
posted by creepygirl at 8:19 PM on September 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

Bareil generally seems to be left off the short lists of favorite recurring characters on DS9.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:09 PM on September 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

I always want to like Bareil more because I like Kira so much and I'm glad they have a nice relationship, but he is just as dull as dishwater. In every scene with him, I'm like, "let's go to Winn now, come on."
posted by thetortoise at 1:23 AM on September 21, 2015

Yeah, even though Winn makes my skin crawl she's 20x more compelling than Bareil. I wish they'd gotten a different actor or written him differently. Do people think this is the natural Star Trek reluctance to depict people of faith? They write Kira very well, but her faith isn't her entire life.
posted by chaiminda at 7:50 AM on September 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, even though Winn makes my skin crawl she's 20x more compelling than Bareil.

Same with Dukat. And I'm not sure that it has to do with the actor, either; although he hasn't done much since his last appearance as Bareil (there doesn't seem to be anything for him on IMDB since 1998), Philip Anglim got great reviews for his stage acting and almost got a Tony for The Elephant Man. I think it's just another example of a Trek character that seemed great in concept, but TPTB never really figured out what to do with him.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:49 PM on September 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always forget that Louise Fletcher played Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. She is an excellent actress.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:10 PM on September 21, 2015

Also, poor Nerys.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:38 PM on September 21, 2015

I don't think the actor was the problem. Reading the DS9 Companion book, you get the feeling that the writers knew the character was dull and they just kept trying to fix it but never figured it out. I guess he's a bit like the early Dax in that he's very mellow and wise and kind of remote and hard to relate to, but with Dax they gave her some real zing eventually and with Bareil they were hamstrung by him needing to be this kind, wise man of faith. They couldn't send him on vengeance missions with old Klingon pals, so he was Kai Opaka all over again. Unadulterated calm, serene goodness just isn't that compelling.

I wonder if they ever gave any thought to a major shakeup, maybe suggesting that he had a real dark side and became a Vedek partly to get control of his own worst tendencies. It was like they had his character set from the beginning and they worked hard to tweak that but for some reason they never made huge changes. If they could do something crazy like make Bashir a genetic superman, why didn't they ever throw us a huge curve ball with Bareil? Why didn't they ever make him a Cardassian spy in hiding? Why didn't they make him a Prophet, taking on Bajoran form?

The way Bareil died almost seemed like the writers making a comment on poor Bareil's innate lifelessness. He became a literal zombie, just shuffling through his scenes and saying his lines, kept alive long past his expiration date.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:46 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I always wondered if Bereil's flatness wasn't by design. Kira is constantly in turmoil and t seemed to me that part of Bereil's appeal for her was his serenity, his ability to be a calm ocean in the midst of upheaval.

Granted, they may have overdone it.
posted by dry white toast at 5:23 AM on September 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

I liked the episode in that it seemed to be a bit of a boring "whodunnit" that then twisted into a darker meditation on the nature of politics and human groups. I liked the bait and switch of moving away from whether Bareil was a traitor and toward the darker possibility that Bajoran society couldn't accept the truth. Bareil is definitely pretty boring though.
posted by Slothrop at 5:55 AM on September 22, 2015

I feel like Bareil's sect are the Episcopalians, or maybe the Lutherans of Bajor. Like, Kira has basically been dating a pleasant but rather dull vicar.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:29 AM on September 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

I liked the bait and switch of moving away from whether Bareil was a traitor and toward the darker possibility that Bajoran society couldn't accept the truth.

DS9 tends to lean on the trope of "We can never let the general public know the Awful Truth about Revered Leader, because those dumb peons couldn't handle it" fairly frequently. But in this episode it seemed more like a decision that Bareil made out of faith/devotion/love for Opaka:

KIRA: No, it is not enough. There is no way you ordered Bek to reveal the location of the Kendra Valley encampment. You were covering up for someone else. Someone who meant more to you than me. More to you even than becoming Kai.
BAREIL: Please, Nerys. Don't.
KIRA: Why not? It's the truth, isn't it? Who else meant that much to you? It had to be Kai Opaka. Opaka knew where the resistance cell was located because her son was a member. She was the collaborator, wasn't she?
BAREIL: She sacrificed her own son to save a thousand people. I had to protect her.

posted by creepygirl at 7:22 PM on September 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Space Dalai Lama would probably be a funny improv suggestion but is a rough starting place for a compelling character on a serious drama, and when the next couple of ideas to flesh out the character are "maybe he has a low-key romance?" and "let's put him in a bunch of foreboding premonitions and dream sequences that end up not meaning anything", it's probably beyond recovery.

Also, why the hell did Bareil keep having visions about his meeting with the monk that ended up being nothing like what actually happened (since he never met the monk)? That must have been as confusing for him as anything. The Prophets have granted you a vision of something that happened far away from you several years ago that did not directly involve you in any way, enjoy.

Wait, and why did the old Secretary finger him for it? Just, like, a guess? Or did Winn tell him to based on who knows what and it happened to be a grenade Bareil wanted to jump on? Fuck this, none of it makes any sense.
posted by Copronymus at 10:28 PM on October 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

This episode is a great argument for banning dream sequences from television shows.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:31 PM on November 25, 2019

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