Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Rapture   Rewatch 
May 5, 2016 5:43 AM - Season 5, Episode 10 - Subscribe

On the eve of Bajor's entry into the Federation, Sisko locates the ruins of the ancient lost city of B'hala on Bajor. As the visions that are guiding him prove potentially fatal, Sisko must choose between faith and his life.

As usual, quotes and trivia from the Memory Alpha fan site. Beware that there are some spoilers in the trivia section on the Memory Alpha link for this episode.

Quotes

"I was there."

"Sir?"

"B'hala. It was the eve of the Peldor Festival. I could hear them ringing the temple chimes."

"You were dreaming."

"No, I was there. I could smell the burning bateret leaves, taste the incense on the wind. I was standing in front of the Obelisk. And as I looked up, for one moment, I understood it all. B'hala... the Orbs... the occupation... the discovery of the wormhole... the coming war with the Dominion."

"You could see the future as well as the past?"

"And for one moment, I could see the pattern that held it all together."

"You had a pagh'tem'far - a sacred vision."

"I don't know what I had. But it felt... wonderful."

"The Prophets chose well when they made you their Emissary. So how does it all fit together?"

"I wish I knew. (playfully) Someone woke me up."
- Sisko, and Kira

"Those of you who were in the Resistance, you're all the same. You think you're the only ones who fought the Cardassians, that you saved Bajor single-handedly. Perhaps you forget, Major, the Cardassians arrested any Bajoran found to be teaching the word of the Prophets. I was in a Cardassian prison camp for five years, and I can remember each and every beating I suffered. And while you had your weapons to protect you, all I had was my faith... and my courage. Walk with the Prophets child... I know I will"
- Kai Winn, to Kira

"Dad, please think about what you're doing. These visions, they're not worth dying for."

"I remember the first time I held you in my hands. You were just a few minutes old, and when I looked down at your face, it was almost as if I could see your whole life stretched out in front of you, the joys it would bring, and the bruises. It was all there, hidden in your scrunched up, little face. The baby I'm holding in my hands now is the universe itself. And I need time to study its face."
- Jake and Sisko

Trivia

* Had the signing ceremony not been interrupted, this episode would have marked the admission of Bajor into the Federation and, thus, the completion of Sisko's Starfleet mission to "do everything short of violating the Prime Directive" (as it was described by Jean-Luc Picard in the show's pilot episode, "Emissary") to ensure Bajor's entry into the Federation. Ironically, it is Sisko himself who prevents this outcome by interrupting the signing ceremony and warning Bajor to "stand alone", an action brought about by what could be considered a gross violation of the Prime Directive: Sisko's acceptance of his role as Emissary of the Prophets. Following on from "Destiny" and "Accession", as Part III of the 'Emissary Trilogy' this episode is a milestone in Sisko's growing acceptance of his role as Emissary, and it also illustrates Starfleet's continuing unease with the position he has allowed himself to occupy in Bajoran religion. As Ronald D. Moore comments, "It's a classic example of what not to do: the Starfleet captain who encounters the primitive culture and declares himself a god. That has to be something they teach Starfleet Academy students in their first year. So certainly, when they start hearing that somewhere out on the frontier Ben Sisko is now being revered as a spokesperson for the Prophets, it probably would raise a lot of eyebrows back at Headquarters." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Although Bajoran religion is a recurrent background theme in many episodes of Deep Space Nine, this is one of only a small number of episodes to have a story focused almost exclusively on it. An earlier example was the fourth season episode "Accession", and later examples would include Season 6's "The Reckoning" and Season 7's "Covenant". Bajoran religion would also play an important part in both the opening and the closing episodes of season 7: "Image in the Sand" and "What You Leave Behind".

* The scene with Sisko carving shapes into the melon was intended as a homage to the famous mashed-potato scene in the 1977 Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Generally speaking, episodes dealing with Bajoran religion hadn't been particularly popular among either the fans or the studio (see Background information for the episode "Accession" for more information). As such, the writers and producers were shocked when this episode proved to be exceptionally popular amongst the fans. Executive producer Ira Steven Behr commented on the popularity of this episode, "I was surprised at the response it generated. [The fans] really seemed to take to this, to the spirituality, the faith. This is the episode that made me realize just what we had created in terms of the Bajoran faith and the Emissary. I knew that it was going to become a more and more important part of the show, and that a part of the audience was going to love it." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)

* Kasidy Yates (Penny Johnson) returns to the station following the end of the six-month jail term she was given in "For the Cause" for aiding the Maquis, and is warmly welcomed back by Sisko. The touching final scene of the episode suggests that she, Benjamin and Jake are becoming a family. However, due to Johnson's shooting schedule on The Larry Sanders Show, Kasidy was not actually seen again until Season 6's "Far Beyond the Stars".
posted by Slothrop (15 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think this episode succeeds where other religion-focused episodes don't because it's about Sisko first and foremost.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 8:52 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hey look, new uniforms!! I guess this coincided with the release of First Contact?

I enjoy the way Sisko's personality really does seem to make him well-suited to being the Emissary. I normally enjoy Cirroc Lofton's performance, but his acting was pretty hammy this episode.

Winn's speech to Kira about surviving the occupation through her faith was good, even if it's sincerity could be called into question.
posted by dry white toast at 9:19 AM on May 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love this one because it starts out not-at-all promising and quickly becomes downright stirring. Plus Admiral Whatley kind of undercuts the usual thing of All Admirals Are Bad News.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:25 AM on May 5, 2016


Disclaimer: I am not a fan of the Bajoran religious stuff.

This was an okay episode, and interestingly, it was one of the rare ones which was improved by an appearance by Kai Winn. Usually just seeing her name in the opening credits is enough to set my teeth on edge, but her comments in this one, about the beatings, are stunning - whether true or not.

The whole idea with Sisko going back in time to the ancient city via a painting and some holodeck stuff seemed a little ludicrous, and then Sisko seemed to go into over-acting-Jesus mode. The bit where he is walking along the promenade and talking to the Bajorans about how the harvest will be okay and stuff like that was just daft. Then when he goes to the meeting and says Bajor shouldn't join the Federation -wtf? Surely this would have gotten him reprimanded by HQ, big time, after all the work they have put in to make it happen. And as far as I remember, nothing comes of all of this, none of the prophetic stuff comes true.

Winn coming to the station was a nice touch, and her comments, as I say, are great - you just don't know with Winn whether it is a self-serving lie or actual truth, and this issue is left vague, Kira doesn't investigate it and call her out on it when she finds out Winn is Lying, which is nice, and fits with the overall moral ambiguity the show has in other areas.

Jake Sisko isn't in it much, and the decision he is left with at the end is interesting, but you know which way he is going to decide, as Sisko has got to be back to normal in time for next weeks episode. The little end scene with Sisko, Jake, and Kasidy all together was a nice touch, especially the hands all joined together. To see thee black characters enjoy a touching moment of togetherness as they look like they are becoming a family was a beautiful touch, so far removed from other images of black characters in a lot of TV and movies.
posted by marienbad at 8:23 AM on May 6, 2016


And as far as I remember, nothing comes of all of this, none of the prophetic stuff comes true.

I wanna say you remember wrong. But my memory's famously terrible, so.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:44 AM on May 6, 2016


Really not liking the new uniforms. I guess I'll get used to them, but they just seem so colorless and bulky on first sight.
posted by oh yeah! at 11:50 AM on May 6, 2016



>And as far as I remember, nothing comes of all of this, none of the prophetic stuff comes true.

I wanna say you remember wrong. But my memory's famously terrible, so.


The 'locusts' would turn out to be the Dominion fleet that arrives in "In Purgatory's Shadow"/"By Inferno's Light". I don't know how the katterpod harvest turned out. The show strangely never revisited it.

It was a mostly good episode. But the lost city should have been dropped, and the episode should have started right off with the announcement of Bajor joining the Federation. Sisko could get his visions from an Orb or whatever, it doesn't matter. I say this because Memory Alpha stated the producers couldn't afford to bring in the actor who played First Minister Shakaar. Which meant the signing ceremony was between Starfleet admirals and Kai Winn. The civil government from each side was oddly absent. The budget should have gone toward making Bajor's Ascension and the festivals around it a bigger event.

Did the writers know Bashir was a Changling infiltrator at this point? I've never been able to find out if they had it planned, or just came up with it for "In Purgatory's Shadow". Because it changes the episode. Human Bashir performed the surgery on Sisko to save his life. But Changling Bashir did it to stop Sisko from having any more visions about the upcoming war.

Really not liking the new uniforms. I guess I'll get used to them, but they just seem so colorless and bulky on first sight.

They weren't fitting any of the actors properly. Was seeing Sisko's com badge on the gray part of his uniform bugging the hell out of anyone else?
posted by riruro at 1:29 PM on May 6, 2016


Did the writers know Bashir was a Changling infiltrator at this point? I've never been able to find out if they had it planned, or just came up with it for "In Purgatory's Shadow".

According to the Deep Space Nine Companion(which I'd recommend for anyone who's a fan of the show--some of the background info in it, but not all, is in Memory Alpha--it's out of print but used copies are available via Amazon), they didn't know until they were in the process of "breaking" "In Purgatory's Shadow", which IIRC is when they decide on the final form that the episode is going to take and start finalizing the script and working on pre-production stuff. Siddig didn't know until shortly thereafter, as well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:21 PM on May 6, 2016


Lots of thoughts about this episode; I just finished my rewatch, and now I realize why it's maybe the most popular of the Bajoran religion episodes: like a lot of Trek (particularly TOS), it engages with a lot of ideas about religion, and like a lot of DS9, it goes a very different place than the installments of the franchise before it. Harlan Ellison once said that Gene Roddenberry only really had one story idea (done several times in TOS and the first movie, not to mention other episodes that he wasn't involved in, such as STV), and that was that the Enterprise goes out in space, finds God, and God is either insane, a child, or both. TNG had a near-omnipotent character, Q, who could often seem cruel and capricious, but ultimately seemed very concerned about humanity's fate. And, of course, DS9 had the Prophets from day one, but over the seasons, they were mostly ignored and made a bit less impressive the more that the station's crew found out about the wormhole and how to manipulate it for their own benefit. In "Accession" and "Rules of Acquisition", people (Sisko and Quark, respectively) seemed pretty easily able to change the Prophets' minds about things, and in "The Assignment", we found out that a few minor modifications to the station could actually kill them, all at once.

And then we come to this episode, and the Prophets are back--although never seen directly, and frankly, that's fine by me; I always find their appearances somewhat tedious, as they always come off as the crew and various supporting characters making very detached conversation as the Quaaludes kick in--and this time they're directly interfering with stuff in the linear temporal world, but why? I mean, yes, we know that it's practically on the eve of the invasion, and thanks to the magic of Rewatch we also know that a non-aggression pact with the Dominion is the only thing that will save Bajor, but if the Prophets were all about saving Bajor, then why didn't they do so when Cardassia rolled in? Are they playing the really long game, and letting the Cardassians trample all over Bajor was the price of long-term survival for the planet and its inhabitants? Or do they just not really care that much?

I think that the former is true, and that there very likely is an extremely long game with an awful lot of moves in it; I think that it's possible that they even set up Keiko O'Brien to be possessed by the pah-wraith, even though they may have risked their own destruction by doing so, to let the linear corporeal world know that those other dudes exist and that they don't fuck around. I think that it's possible that they set up Sisko to go to the brink of death with his visions, and set up the alternate timeline of "The Visitor" so that Sisko wouldn't be mad at Jake for kicking Sisko's explicit instructions to the curb, because Sisko would already know the lengths that his son would go to in order to save him. (There's also the practical matter of what good it would have done for them to let Sisko go on having them if he was in a coma and wouldn't have been able to tell them what he saw before he died. But anyway.) It's kind of contra-canon to assert that the Prophets could effect all these manipulations and changes away from either the Temple or the Orbs, but I still think that it's a little weirdly convenient that there's a peculiarly specific holodeck malfunction so close to the signing of the admission accords. To borrow a concept from another franchise, sometimes Sisko, maybe because of his previous contact with the Prophets and status as the Emissary, and also because of what we find out about his secret origin in the beginning of Season 7, is as much of a horcrux (spoilers for Harry Potter) of sorts as the Orbs.

The Prophets move in mysterious ways, their wonders to perform... and they seem as detached and unwilling or uncaring to explain their moves as the Old Testament God who commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son, or told Job, "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?" The showrunners are very conscious of allegory and symbolism; the bit about the locusts came from an abandoned idea for an episode (per the DS9 Companion that I previously mentioned) about a literal plague, and in time, we'll see the threatened sacrifice of a son, and the actual sacrifice of a daughter, and a pilgrimage to a desert for answers. And not everyone worships the Prophets in the same way, as we see with Kai Winn, who comes off as a true believer, but also someone who believes that the Prophets help those who help themselves, and don't want or need or particularly appreciate help from the Federation. It's really something to look in Louise Fletcher's eyes when she's talking about the camps. I'm reminded of something that Viktor Frankl wrote about his time in Auschwitz and elsewhere, about how no one survived the camps by being pure, that all of the survivors had to do simply what they had to in order to survive. Of course, Frankl comes off very different from Winn, whose outlook seems to better match that of another fictional survivor from yet another franchise: Erik Lensherr. She'll eventually have her own revelation, of course, albeit not quite the one she expected.

Lots of good work all around from various people in this episode. Nana Visitor was still recovering from labor, but she had some nice bits; after she wakes Sisko from his vision and he's telling her that he almost had the grand picture of everything, past and future, but "someone woke me up," her stricken expression is perfect. Also nice to see Worf sticking up for faith; he may not be a believer in the Prophets specifically, but he's the guy who defended his attempt to take the Sword of Kahless with his having had a vision of Kahless when he was a teenager. Quark accidentally dropping the wrong welcome banner, and Worf's observation that "you cannot loosen a man's tongue with root beer." Another great little bit: Sisko rearranging his food. Again in the DS9 Companion, Ira Steven Behr fretted that it didn't work, but I caught the Close Encounters of the Third Kind right away; that was yet another science fiction project that had very heavy religious overtones (including another pilgrimage to the desert).
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:20 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Was seeing Sisko's com badge on the gray part of his uniform bugging the hell out of anyone else?

Every time.

I think that it's possible that they even set up Keiko O'Brien to be possessed by the pah-wraith, even though they may have risked their own destruction by doing so, to let the linear corporeal world know that those other dudes exist and that they don't fuck around.

Holy shit dude.

I think that it's possible that they set up Sisko to go to the brink of death with his visions, and set up the alternate timeline of "The Visitor" so that Sisko wouldn't be mad at Jake for kicking Sisko's explicit instructions to the curb, because Sisko would already know the lengths that his son would go to in order to save him.

Intriguing, except (A) do they really understand linear time enough to manipulate cause-and-effect that way? and (B) do they really care whether Sisko gets mad at his kid or not? Maybe sometimes it's not so much a matter of the Prophets' plans as the writers'.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:15 AM on May 7, 2016


I thought the Prophets didn't understand linear time until they met Sicko?
posted by pseudodionysus at 3:24 PM on May 7, 2016


(A) do they really understand linear time enough to manipulate cause-and-effect that way? and (B) do they really care whether Sisko gets mad at his kid or not? Maybe sometimes it's not so much a matter of the Prophets' plans as the writers'.

I'd say that a) they may not have understood linear time until they had their initial conversation with Sisko, but that doesn't mean that they couldn't have then gone back and manipulated events before those of "Emissary", as they're capable of at least some limited types of time travel, e.g. they sent Akorem Laan back to his own time at the end of "Accession." b) That part of my little speculative reverie was, well, pretty speculative, but they can certainly be made to care, as we've seen in "Emissary", "Accession", and "Rules of Acquisition", and will see in "Sacrifice of Angels." There's something compelling about a mortal appealing to a higher power for intervention; see, for example, Silk Spectre and Dr. Manhattan talking on Mars in Watchmen. Also, they could be saving Benjamin and Jake's relationship so that Jake will be close at hand for his role in "The Reckoning", next season.

And c), sure, ultimately it's all in the service of telling a good story, although according to the writers they often don't have things planned out that well in advance, as with their last minute decision to retroactively make Bashir, as of this episode at the latest if not earlier, swapped out with a changeling. (This is a different approach than, say, J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5--a show to which DS9 is often compared, if not outright accused of ripping off--who plotted out the show from start to finish, and later had to make drastic changes in upon the threat of cancellation.) However, the way you phrased that makes me think that it implies that the Prophets' plans may have influenced the writers', rather than the other way round. That's pleasingly meta; speaking of Watchmen, Alan Moore has sometimes implied that the story he was working on was starting to leak out of the fictional realm and affect him in real life, and much of the late-game plot of The Dark Tower has the main characters crossing interdimensional barriers to plead and threaten Stephen King, personally, to finish the damn saga. (Probably a lot of ASOIAF wish that Jaime, Brienne et al. would get medieval on George R.R. Martin's ass in a likewise manner.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:53 PM on May 7, 2016


And I can't believe I hit "Post Comment" on the above without even hinting at "Far Beyond the Stars." Ut!
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:55 PM on May 7, 2016


Mind = Blown, Halloween Jack
posted by marienbad at 7:01 PM on May 7, 2016


That part of my little speculative reverie was, well, pretty speculative, but they can certainly be made to care, as we've seen in "Emissary", "Accession", and "Rules of Acquisition", and will see in "Sacrifice of Angels." ... Also, they could be saving Benjamin and Jake's relationship so that Jake will be close at hand for his role in "The Reckoning", next season.

Ah yes, forgot about those. Well then, Straczynski-esque planning or not, it's a testament to the DS9 writers' abilities that they handled their gods a lot more consistently, thoroughly, and interestingly than TNG handled its god. (And let's not even talk about ENT's god, which would have to be Boring Time Guy. So then VOY's god would have to be...Seven of Nine's costume designer? *shrug*)

It's funny; the thing I always come back to with DS9 is how, when it first came out, I gave up on it after two episodes because of the religion stuff (and, a close second, the way the leads didn't seem to get along)-- and now, on this (my fourth, maybe fifth rewatch), that's the best stuff.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:41 AM on May 8, 2016


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