Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Shakaar   Rewatch 
December 20, 2015 8:29 PM - Season 3, Episode 24 - Subscribe

Kira gets an assignment from Kai Winn, of all people, to convince the former leader of her old resistance cell to stand down his resistance to relinquishing soil reclamators. Bajor is on the verge of civil war again... over farm equipment. And O'Brien's in the zone...

From Memory Alpha &c.:

- Robert Hewitt Wolfe commented "We developed the idea of doing an episode based on Zapata, who rose up to overthrow the unjust government of Mexico and then put in a government that he rose up to overthrow as well. He kept fighting well after the war was won. I think that was the idea here, just to see Kira's mentor and the fact that it's not easy to end a war even when your side has won."

- The prayer which Kira recites for Bareil at the start of the episode is a request to the Prophets that Bareil be guided and protected on his journey to the gates of heaven.

- The exteriors in this episode were shot in Bronson Canyon, but the weather was so cold that a number of scheduled shots were never completed, and were instead rewritten so they could be filmed in the studio. Indeed, so many shots were dropped that the crew ended up with some free time while at the canyon, so they went into the real caves at the canyon and shot the cave scenes scheduled for shooting in the studio.

- Colonel Lenaris is played by John Doman in his first TV appearance; he would go on to play Major William Rawls on The Wire.

"It is one of my observation that one of the prices of giving people freedom of choice, is that sometimes they make the wrong choice."
- Odo, to Kira
posted by Halloween Jack (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
*tap tap* Is this thing on?

But srsly, I can dig why this didn't have much of an impact (besides it being Xmas week and the movie from That Other Franchise launching, and it was quite excellent, BTW). This is like the Bajor-heavy episodes from the first and second seasons, the ones that seem to have been masterminded by the person on the production staff who thought that some of their poli-sci papers from their undergraduate years would make for keen space opera drama. And, again, I could see how just a few minor tweaks could have put a bit of an edge on it. Such as, when they're talking about withdrawing and Furel and Lupaza talk about giving the Bajoran militia a "bloody nose", that would have been a great point for Kira to flat-out say, but what do you mean by that? If it comes down to it, could you shoot another Bajoran? And then they could have discussed whether meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss justified lethal force. And if they have enough rifles to pull it off (I'm not sure if Klingon disruptors have a non-lethal setting; Jem'Hadar weapons don't), they could try capturing some of the militia alive; it would have been cool if they'd captured Colonel Lenaris and some others and Lenaris just looked at them and said, well, you've got me, now what? Maybe we can work out a prisoner exchange, but what's the end game, besides an interminable civil war while the Cardassians watch and laugh? Or Kai Winn could have justified her imposition of martial law by claiming evidence of Cardassian infiltration (a la "The Siege"); when she gets into it with Sisko, and tries to get him to commit Starfleet troops to maintain order on Bajor, he could have pointed out that most Bajorans probably don't want foreign troops of any sort garrisoned on their planet, but made a counteroffer to scan the planet from orbit for Cardassians, and called her bluff that way. Just a few tweaks like that could have amped things up a bit. (I will say that I really like the last shot of Winn; Louise Fletcher can give the stinkeye like no one's business.)

Also, in a similar vein, I was hoping that it would be made clear that O'Brien was deliberately overworking his bad shoulder in order to deliberately throw the game. It would have been a mean thing to do, but I don't see him as the kind of guy who would like getting exploited by Quark.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:01 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah, there were lots of structural weaknesses with the episode, but I actually enjoyed it, anyway. I actually generally like the poli-sci stuff on DS9 and am always surprised with how well it lines up with the West's current geopolitical situation.*

I think the whole story would have been a great 4 to 5 episode B-plot to various standard sci-fi A-plots aboard the station. The fact that Kira basically went AWOL with no comment was way too abrupt. I understand her dedication to Shakaar, even believed her dedication to Shakaar, but I can't help but think most viewers would have thought it came on too fast.

Shakaar, interestingly, seemed much more charismatic than Bareil. It seems like he would have been a much better recurring character than the Vedek. Maybe he is, and I just haven't seen those episodes (I've seen parts of season 4 and 5). Shakaar really sold his part of the story, and the plot itself, that the Bajoran government could be short-sighted and corrupt, was plenty plausible.

The comeuppance for Kai Winn was fun, although, again, it happened too fast, even though the overall lesson was terrific and keeping with both Trek and DS9 traditions.

* - As a bit of a sidebar - I think that some of DS9's prescience vis-a-vis occupation/religion/civil war could be my own lack of awareness of Middle Eastern politics pre-9/11. In other words, it could be that various people were talking about these things during the era of DS9's production, but you had to be a bit more "in the know" to see all of the references and ramifications. In my defense, the show originally aired from the time I was 18 until I was 24.
posted by Slothrop at 12:17 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]

I need to rewatch this. I remember disliking Shakaar so much that I started taking Kai Winn's side, which made me deeply uncomfortable when considering the real-world implications. Slothrop's point about prescience is well taken; my partner was reading a history of Afghanistan when we were watching this arc and it led to great conversations. I would totally believe the Ronald D. Moore types on staff were thinking hard about this. Can't wait till we get to the Federation's response to changelings...

(Also, Shakaar + Kira = Shakira. what even happened here)
posted by thetortoise at 3:09 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

One of the great things about DS9 (and a lot of credit also has to go to TNG, which set up a lot of the situation with the Cardassians, Bajorans, and so on; I tend to think of "The Wounded" as the first unofficial DS9 episode) is that they made some pretty strong allegories while avoiding easy comparisons, something that typifies Trek at its best. It's hard to avoid the characterization of Cardassians as Space Nazis, especially in episodes like "Duet" that talk about the Gallitep labor camp (which also gets mentioned in this episode), but the real focus of this episode is that of the Bajorans in general, and Winn in particular, internalizing the oppressor, which can apply in all sorts of situations.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:02 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Duet" comes pretty clearly out of Nuremberg, but-- admitting that I have a slightly unhealthy degree of obsession with Cardassia-- the Nazi allegory only comes up rarely and Cardassia maps onto a wide variety of authoritarian and right-leaning governments and cultures depending on the episode. I was slightly obsessed with early Showa Japan for a while and kept noticing parallels, and just the other day I was talking about The Franchise Affair, Josephine Tey's mystery-that's-not-really-a-mystery masterpiece of British conservative classist crankery, and my wife pointed out how much Garak would have loved it. (Sorry I mention her so much, but she's my big source of Star Trek conversation; we once spent an entire six-hour drive discussing the motivations of various DS9 secondary characters.) I am not at all a techy person so I haven't read much real SF, but I loooove this show because it supports endless amounts of anthropological/polisci/cultural nerdery. HJ, that point about internalized oppression is a great one, and I hope to remember it when we discuss future episodes (with Odo in particular).
posted by thetortoise at 7:28 AM on December 22, 2015 [4 favorites]

I love the political science stuff, but sometimes it doesn't map well to the post-scarcity future setting. I mean, the Federation looks idiotic and ineffectual here for not offering to replicate (or have O'Brien build) and loan some soil reclamators to Bajor to defuse the conflict.

On another note, I got a kick out of recognizing Doman (Rawls) on the rewatch.
posted by creepygirl at 12:01 PM on December 22, 2015

I've never read the Federation as post-scarcity as much as merely very rich in most places.

For example, O'Brien is crawling around the bowels of DS9, trying to kludge Cardassian tech up to Starfleet standards. In a post-scarcity setting, I'd expect him to feed a few asteroids (or maybe DS9 itself) into his Von Neumann probe and extrude a brand new Starfleet-spec habitat.

I'm more imagining something like, 21st century U.S. as seen by medieval peasants. If you pulled someone out of a wattle-and-daub hovel and put them into the most awful Section 8 housing, he'd be like, "So potable water just comes flowing out of this pipe, whenever I want, as much as I want?" But ask for a castle, and, well, no, actually you just get awful Section 8 housing.

So as a plot device, it seems perfectly plausible that DS9 can replicate any number of drinks for its staff but cannot supply an entire planet with agricultural equipment.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:18 PM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]

Yeah, whatever kind of tech is involved in a soil reclamator, it might include one or more of the unobtanium-class elements that can't be replicated. I have no idea of how a soil reclamator would actually work, but I'd imagine that it might be something like a mobile transporter/replicator on some sort of tractor/combine-type platform, that sort of chews through the soil and beams out whatever is poisoning it, which is probably an energy-intensive process, and Bajor may still have relatively limited energy-generating capability; a first-season episode, "Progress", which is roughly similar to this one (i.e. Kira giving bad news to a farmer), has them converting an entire moon (which is also an M-class planet; I'm not sure how that works) to a power plant.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:12 AM on December 23, 2015

I think that some of DS9's prescience vis-a-vis occupation/religion/civil war could be my own lack of awareness of Middle Eastern politics pre-9/11. In other words, it could be that various people were talking about these things during the era of DS9's production, but you had to be a bit more "in the know" to see all of the references and ramifications.

I always read Bajor as much more influenced by the breakup of Yugoslavia.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:47 PM on December 29, 2015

Had to track this post down just to say THAT'S NOT HOW YOU WIN DARTS
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2019 [2 favorites]

I mean OK you CAN win darts landing on the bull but you don't HAVE to win with the bull, you have to win with your last dart hitting a double (the bull or the outer ring) that brings your score to exactly zero. But DS9 plays it like you have to finish on the bull, and the bull is the best spot to hit (treble 20 is the best spot).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:19 AM on August 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

A very odd A-plot / B-plot pairing. The tagline of Julian hitting the bullseye is another case of a darts-related beat that doesn't make as much sense in retrospect.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 1:52 AM on February 22, 2023 [2 favorites]

Also, in a similar vein, I was hoping that it would be made clear that O'Brien was deliberately overworking his bad shoulder in order to deliberately throw the game. It would have been a mean thing to do, but I don't see him as the kind of guy who would like getting exploited by Quark.

Maybe I misunderstand what you're saying, but I thought it was pretty clear that O'Brien was throwing the game. Actually, I assumed he wasn't really hurt, but he and Bashir had conspired to fake the whole thing. Sure, it was never said out loud, but Bashir and O'Brien were super hammy about the injury, culminating with the part where O'Brien feigns that he'll to throw the dart despite having such a terrible injury. Also, when O'Brien and Quark had their previous conversation where O'Brien indicates he doesn't like Quark betting on him, you can see the light turn on in his eyes when he decides he's going to teach Quark a lesson.

I mean, the whole thing was very silly (and clashed badly with the A-plot, which has happened a lot in recent episodes) but I think it was the right choice to show-and-not-tell about what O'Brien was up to.
posted by polecat at 4:34 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

Isn't Kira serving on DS9 as an appointment by the Bajoran government? Maybe Kai doesn't have any winning moves here, but it seems to me that she would at least fire Kira out of pure vindictiveness.

(Not that Starfleet seems to care much when a high-ranking officer takes a sudden extended leave of absence to avenge their family, slay an albino, uncover the conspiracy of the Trill planet, sail away in a Kon-Tiki, etc.)
posted by polecat at 4:40 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]

At first I thought O'Brien was throwing the game, but I wasn't certain.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:52 PM on January 12

I subsequently listened to The Greatest Generation talk about this, and they were super confused about whether O'Brien was throwing the game and maybe injuring himeself on purpose. I thought maybe I hadn't been watching carefully enough, so I went and watched those scenes. What I saw:
* O'Brien is making a big show of stalling while the Vulcan is telling him to just throw the dart already. When Quark walks into the scene, he further delays by making sure to grab a beer from Quark. My interpretation is that he's been waiting for just this moment so that he can do his act in front of Quark.
* He thinks he's going to throw the dart despite the injury? Yeah, right. It has to be an act. It seems a bit overdramatic, but that's the kind of broad humor we often use around Quark.

It's left ambiguous, but I don't think there was any injury or surgery.

For extra stupid head cannon: I notice that as O'Brien leaves, the Vulcan tells Quark to pay up. This made me wonder about a Vulcan making bets. It seems like a Vulcan would be the last person to bet out of either pride or desire for money. So what if the Vulcan was also in on the ruse? Just an idea--I don't think this is what they were trying to depict.

On The Greatest Generation, they seemed to think O'Brien was trying to throw the game to take Quark's money. From the start, I didn't think he wanted Quark's money nor was he taking any. He just wanted to teach Quark a lesson.
posted by polecat at 3:04 PM on January 15 [1 favorite]

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