Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Accession   Rewatch 
February 27, 2016 9:39 PM - Season 4, Episode 17 - Subscribe

Sisko gets to quit the job he never wanted, but the new guy wants to bring back old ideas, and Sisko isn't too happy about that. Plus, Kira contemplates a change of careers, and Worf is in no hurry to be an amateur obstetrician again.

From Memory Alpha et al.:

- The producers had to fight to get this episode made because the studio had told them not to do any shows about Bajoran religion. According to Hans Beimler, "Shows about religion, alien religion and the Prophets, are extraordinarily difficult. Not because they're hard to produce, but because they're not proven ratings winners. As a result, the studio tends to be happier when DS9 is doing action stories." Similarly, René Echevarria explains, "The studio doesn't like Bajor stories. And Bajor's religion is one aspect of Bajor to which they really don't respond."

- The ship flown by Akorem Laan is the same model used in the episode "Explorers".

- David Warner was approached for the role of Akorem. Ira Steven Behr commented "Personally, I wanted David Warner as Akorem. He wanted to do it, but his wife talked him out of it because he was on vacation and she didn't want him to work. To this day I still wish David Warner was in it. I think it's a really interesting script and idea, and it leaves us with a nice, interesting mystery. It's a good show, and Avery was great, but I wanted him to have a better opponent".

- Actor Colm Meaney was unhappy with the decision to have O'Brien's quarters in disarray due to Keiko's absence. Meaney states that, "It was expedient to have some sort of what's considered humor in the script, but I object to saying this man is incapable of keeping his apartment tidy when his wife's away. That's a cliché."

- This episode is considered to be Part II of the "Emissary Trilogy", with Part I being "Destiny" and Part III being "Rapture", and as with "Destiny", Sisko is initially very clear in this episode about how uncomfortable he is in his role as Emissary of the Prophets. However, this episode represents an important turning point in his attitude to his position. It is the second time the phrase "The Sisko" has been used (it was first used in the episode "Prophet Motive") and it is the first time we hear the phrase "You are of Bajor". Both of these phrases would come to have great importance in the future. As well as that, this episode marks the point at which Sisko finally begins to accept his role as Emissary (in "Destiny", he accepted that there may be more to the Prophecies than he has allowed for, but he didn't change his opinion about his own status in Bajoran religion).

- Kira's line "That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it, you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary" is a paraphrase of a quotation from St. Thomas Aquinas, which reads "To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible."

"Did you hear? Keiko's going to have another baby."


"No. Seven months. Worf delivered Molly, you know."


"The Enterprise was damaged. Keiko and he were trapped together when her time came."

"Oh, well, I'll, uh, be sure to call you when she's ready to deliver. You can lend a hand."

"Seven months? Unfortunately, I will be away from the station at that time. Far away. Visiting my parents on Earth. Excuse me."

-- Quark, Worf, O'Brien, and Bashir

"It's not our place to question the Emissary."

"No matter what?"

"Maybe you never realized this, Captain, but we would have tried to do whatever you asked of us when you were Emissary, no matter how difficult it seemed."

-- Kira and Sisko
posted by Halloween Jack (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
"Seven months? Unfortunately, I will be away from the station at that time. Far away. Visiting my parents on Earth. Excuse me."

Worf is so great.
posted by JHarris at 2:51 AM on February 28, 2016 [7 favorites]

Funny how Kira obviously respects and likes Sisko, and is even in awe of him when the Emissary stuff comes up... but on a day to day basis, she seems to snark at him and question his orders the same way she would with anybody else! I guess it would have been creepy and sad to have her fawn over him all the time, but she seems to have this kind of schizophrenic attitude where it's like, "Yeah, whatever, you're just some dude" mixed with "YOU ARE THE SISKO!!".
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:49 PM on February 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

I actually like that built-in cognitive dissonance, actually. It seems very human - she's unable to deal with the enormity of having a divine creature as her boss, so instead she's taking behavioral cues from everyone else around her (including Sisko himself) and ignoring it on the day-to-day.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:43 PM on February 28, 2016 [9 favorites]

Yeah, I think they made it work on the show. It's a hell of a conflicted attitude, when I think about it, but it makes sense for Kira.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 5:21 PM on February 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Warner would have been great! I liked him as Chancellor Gorkon.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:13 PM on February 28, 2016

I'm with the studios on this, as I'm not a fan of the Bajoran religious stuff, but then, I'm not a fan of religion generally. I like the idea that Sisko is the Emissary, a non-Bajoran Star Fleet Captain, a man of science and rationality, but a lot of the religious stuff I find a bit tedious. I don't need action episodes all the time either, though.

That said, this was an interesting episode for the way it dealt with how returning to antiquated ideas can affect a society, something which seems particularly relevant to today, where we seem to be heading back to Victorian times post haste. And for showing how far Kira has travelled on her own personal journey, and how she tries to come to terms with this new change, and really, she can't, as she is a product of her time, and a child of the occupation.
posted by marienbad at 8:21 AM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Really shoulda been David Warner. This is the second or third actor to play a Bajoran who could not suppress his New York accent. BRITISH accents on aliens don't hurt believability!
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:13 AM on February 29, 2016

I kind of like to imagine, manipulation of the timeline notwithstanding, that there were already some sort of back-room deliberations involved in restoring Sisko to the role of Emissary, once the disorder caused by Akorem's reforms became evident.

Vedek: "So we, uh, consulted the orbs, and it turns out that Sisko was actually the Emissary all along."

Random Bajoran Farmer: "This all seems like a vaguely metaphysical justification for making things up as you go along."

Vedek: "Well, um..." *mysterious hand-wavy gestures* "It is the will of the PROPHETS!"

Also, I don't see why Maj. Kira couldn't have reconciled her dejara with her natural aptitudes:

"A woman can be an anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good she is at it. Kira's art is death. She's about to paint her masterpiece."
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:27 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

It is a little freaky how quickly the Bajorans were willing to pivot from "Hey, let's join the Federation!" to "Hey, let's do some religious murders!", though.

It's one thing to be proud of your faith and your heritage. It's entirely another to start pushing people off bridges because of a caste system that you didn't give a shit about two weeks ago.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:10 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't think that literally all the Bajorans changed their mind overnight simply because their version of Walt Whitman popped up and said, hey, we need to pretend that the last two centuries didn't happen. We know that there's a strong conservative/fundamentalist streak in Bajoran society; these were the people who were ready to vote their pope in as chief executive until a plausible opponent could be convinced to leave his farm. Plus, of course, the events of "In the Hands of the Prophets" and the three-parter that opened S2. Also, contra to the way that Kira states her beliefs regarding the Emissary, I don't think that literally every Bajoran was that worshipful of Sisko; The Circle certainly didn't seem to be, or the Kohn-Ma. Plus, as is indicated in this episode, there were a certain percentage of Bajorans who respected the office of the Emissary, as it were, but were happier when it seemed that that personage wasn't a smooth-nosed alien after all. It makes a lot of sense for a people who have just gotten out from under the thumb of one interstellar power and are contemplating joining another to wonder if they're giving up too much just as they seemed to be getting it back, and that undercurrent is probably still there.

One of the uncertainties of the end of the episode, which is exceptionally wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey even for a franchise that couldn't make up its mind about how time travel worked in it, is just how much everyone besides Kira and Sisko remembered; I'm guessing that, if everyone remembered, there would probably be quite a few people who had quite a lot to walk back, and for that matter you might have some who decided that the old ways were best after all, and formed some intentional communities toward that purpose, if they didn't already exist anyway. Unfortunately, as the crew stated, Bajor-centric episodes just weren't that popular, and so it didn't really get explored.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:46 AM on March 2, 2016

Finally had a chance to watch the episode this morning. I think I agree with the recap that David Warner would have been a mis-cast -- he's so known for playing villains, seeing him appear would have been like watching a procedural in which Famous Actor shows up in a scene and you know automatically know they're the killer. I mean, I think we'd all know that Akorem wasn't going to turn out to be the true Emissary no matter who played him, I don't think they needed to be a 'strong opponent', since the conflict wasn't really about Sisko vs Akorem, it was Sisko vs Sisko.

Also from the Tor recap - this was one of Jane Espenson's first produced tv-scripts, neat.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:37 AM on March 5, 2016

I'm way late to this but oh man. If I were Sisko, as soon as that Veddick killed that guy, I would have walked back to my office, messaged Starfleet and said "Yo, this place is a backwater whose people will give in to whatever superstition the person with the pointiest hat tells them. Federation membership is not in the cards. Back this truck up."

I loved Sisko's retort to Bashir when he asks if he knows what the aliens were trying to tell him: "That I've got too many peptides bouncing around in my head!"

I do enjoy the visits to the Wormhole Aliens and the non-linear truth bombs they drop.

Messy quarters aside, Keiko and Miles' marriage is very true-to-life. I also enjoy that.
posted by dry white toast at 9:31 PM on March 13, 2016 [4 favorites]

Based on dialog about the state of O'Brien's quarters in a previous episode, it didn't read to me like it was messy so much as full of capital-P Projects in various stages of being worked on. Which like, it seems like there's plenty of empty quarters on the station. He could probably just ask Sisko for one that he could use as a dedicated workshop separate from his living space.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:15 AM on April 3, 2023 [1 favorite]

I wonder if there are still empty quarters. I know at the beginning of the series there were, but some recent episode mentioned 1,200 residents in an area Worf wanted to clear out for security reasons; I have the impression the population has boomed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:01 AM on February 4

Man. I think that so far Trill stories have been the thing that DS9 bungles the hardest, but Bajor stories are a close second. I want to like Bajor stories. I think it's a rich idea that we've set the show on the edge of this world that has such problems, and religion is full of very real problems and something that Star Trek has been way too glib about. It's about as glib to think that everyone on Earth has become atheists as it is to think that everyone on Bajor has such a shared understanding of religion. Like, if they love religion this much, they're going to be super violently factional, yes?

Shows about religion, alien religion and the Prophets, are extraordinarily difficult. Not because they're hard to produce, but because they're not proven ratings winners

If I read this charitably, he's not saying that shows about religion are not hard to produce, he's just saying that the difficulty isn't the main reason the studio didn't like it. If he's saying that shows about religion aren't hard to produce, then I really want to see the evidence on that. I see a 3-way vicious circle of studio skepticism, audience preference, and the need for some deft writing that 26-episode-a-year Star Trek couldn't deliver on.

So let me start counting things I thought this ep was way too glib about:
- Everyone on Bajor agreeing that Sisko is the emissary
- "we would have tried to do whatever you asked of us when you were Emissary, no matter how difficult it seemed" (like Kai Winn, who seemed quite convinced that he was the emissary, was so eager to join the Federation?)
- Akorem doesn't really seem that upset about being thrown into the future and losing his family
- Sisko can just hand off his Emissary role to someone else and people won't get upset over that
- Everyone on Bajor has given up on the caste system
- The Cardassians wouldn't have been fostering the caste system as a tool to keep Bajorans under their control
- Since the Cardassians left, there hasn't been a lot of strife over people trying to bring the caste system back.
- Nobody's had anything to say about the caste system until this ep
- After it's announced that we're going back to the caste system, there wasn't a huge uproar from people who disagree
- Even if people didn't fight about it, going back to this caste system is going to throw the whole economy into considerably more chaos
- Even if everyone on Bajor wants to believe the Emissary regarding the question of joining the Federation, all of the current intergalactic strife doesn't make them have second thoughts.
- The admirals were mad about Sisko being the emissary, and now they're mad that he's not
- That vedek doesn't even seem to have a single thought that there would be any problem with him murdering the untouchable guy right in front of all the Federation people
- We can go into the wormhole and ask for clarification about the prophecy today, but nobody tried that a million times before.
- Akorem quickly accepts that he's not the emissary
- You sent him into the future "for the Sisko"? Could you explain a little more? No? Never mind.
- Yes, Sisko. We believe that the prophets told you that you are the emissary and you didn't just push Akorem out of the airlock because there were no witnesses.
- Sisko is the emissary again! No faith is shaken by that!
posted by polecat at 3:44 PM on March 1 [2 favorites]

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