Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Tears of the Prophets   Rewatch 
September 29, 2016 6:49 AM - Season 6, Episode 26 - Subscribe

And THAT'S why…you don't ignore a warning from the Prophets. (Season six finale)

This episode's Memory Alpha page contains spoilers for season seven, but the selected background info below is safe:

- According to Ira Steven Behr, the basic premise for this episode was very simple; "We're gonna send Sisko to Earth and all the gods will be dead." René Echevarria elaborates; "We basically knew we wanted to give Sisko a big setback, and have the Dominion attack the Prophets in some way, shape, or form." Important in the preliminary stages of formulating the idea was the episode "The Reckoning". As Echevarria explains, "By the end of that episode, time is sort of out of joint, and things are not as they were destined to be." Similarly, David Weddle, who co-wrote "The Reckoning" with Bradley Thompson, points out, "We loved the idea of the prophecy being unfulfilled. The Pah-wraiths weren't defeated and that enabled Dukat to call upon one." As such, this episode is something of a sequel to "The Reckoning" insofar as it examines the consequences of Kai Winn's actions, and her interruption of the battle between the Prophet and Kosst Amojan.

- Worf's farewell song to Jadzia is: "Only Qo'noS endures. All we can hope for is a glorious death. Only Qo'noS endures. In death there is victory and honor." Ira Steven Behr commented: "It's based entirely on a Native American chant, 'Only the Earth endures'. I like the thought, and it was a nice statement that was lost". Bradley Thompson translated the chant into Klingon, using The Klingon Dictionary. Behr regretted that the audience didn't get to hear the English version.

- Ira Behr never wanted to kill Dax at all, and he has stated, "I didn't want to kill Jadzia. To me, that had very little to do with good storytelling." However, it was generally agreed that the writers had little choice but to kill her.

- There were many rumors as to why Farrell left DS9; some believed she wanted more money, there were differences with producers, or she had arguments with fellow cast members. Visual Effects Supervisor for the episode in which she made her last appearance, David Stipes, was present at the shoot and had this to say: "Terry Farrell's contract was up on DS-9 and she was leaving the show. The story going around was that she did not wish to leave but the producers would not grant her contract requests."

- In terms of leaving the show, Terry Farrell commented, "My heart said it was time to move on. After playing the character for six years, there's things I wish we would have done. I wish I would have had at least one fight scene this year. But there's nine major characters, so the writers can only do so much. I've had six years and one hundred fifty episodes of experience on this show, so my sadness is more in saying goodbye to the people. I don't feel cheated out of the character in the same way as I would have if the show had been canceled, because I've gotten the opportunity to play her."

- Of her death scene, Farrell has said, "It was really hard because my eyes wouldn't stop tearing, and it was very hard to, you know, every time Worf does that guttural scream, water would spurt out of my eyes. I don't think that on my close-up he made the sound, because it was too hard. That was very difficult."

"By this time next year, the three of us will drink bloodwine in the halls of Cardassia's Central Command."

- Martok, to Sisko and Admiral Ross

"We're in the middle of a life-and-death struggle for the control of the entire Alpha Quadrant and all you care about is quenching your petty thirst for revenge! You haven't changed a bit, have you?"
"On the contrary. I'm a new man. I no longer have a need for conquest or power. I'm far beyond all that! I exist in a state of complete clarity, a clarity I intend to share with the universe!"
"You're right, Dukat, you have changed! You've gone from being a self-important egoist to a self-deluded madman - I hardly call that an improvement!"

- Weyoun and Dukat

"The Prophets don't see me as a Starfleet captain. They see me as their Emissary."
"That's the trouble, isn't it? And for the past six years, you've tried to be both. And up to now, I've been patient. I've indulged you. I've gone out on a limb for you many times, but this is it. You need to make a decision. You are either the Emissary or a Stafleet captain. You can't be both."
"I'll... I'll be on the Defiant bridge at 0500."

- Sisko and Ross

"I was afraid of that... he's not sure he's coming back."
"What makes you say that?"
"His baseball, he took it with him."

- Kira and Odo
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (31 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have the link in front of me, but someone else posted it (I didn't find it when skimming through previous posts) of the excerpt from Vol. 2 of The Fifty-Year Mission in which Terry Farrell talks about how she wanted to be in season 7 in a recurring role, but Rick Berman shot the idea down. I like Farrell a lot, and liked Jadzia a lot, but... I have to say, having one of the main characters die is a good way of reminding us that, yes, people really are dying out there, and that includes people that we do or should care about. (Technically, we already got this with O'Brien in "Visionary", but he got an instant replacement, so that's different.) And her telling Worf that "Our baby would have been so beautiful"... Klingons may not have tear ducts, but I sure do. (Here's a picture of what a Trill/Klingon hybrid may look like, from a Tumblr post on different racial hybrids in Trek.) Trek can be at its best when it evaluates the cost of victory; think of the Wrath of Khan when the Enterprise speeds away from the exploding Genesis Device and Kirk exults, then sees Spock's empty chair.

So, yeah, a downbeat ending to the season, but lots of great moments. There's a certain amount of irony in Weyoun calling Dukat a madman, even though he certainly is, because Jeffrey Combs tends to play characters in various stages of unhingement; think of his Dr. Herbert West in the Re-Animator movies, or even Tiron (the supercreep who was stalking Kira) or even Brunt being kind of Ferengi-Javert toward Quark.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:39 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

(Here it is. It was, weirdly, in the "Profit and Lace" post.)
posted by mwhybark at 9:37 AM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

My rewatch on these seasons was pretty recent, like a couple months ago, so I'm prolly gonna have more to say than I did back around s03/04 here.

I remember watching this and just being furious about Farrell being off the show. Over the prior couple of seasons her character and in particular her acting had become one of the best, most compelling things on the show, probably beginning with the magic space batleth episode. The actress' presence on screen and in her character was just more compelling to me than that of the other characters and actors, with the exception of Colm Meany's O'Brien, among the regulars.

I think this may be due to my having developed an awareness of some of the artificiality of the actors' uses of mannerism to convey character and as well the actors' mounting struggles to integrate some divergent and questionable character writing into their performances. At some point this season, Brooks' use of facial tics, Visitor's use of leaning into an acting partner's space, Siddiq's obvious uncertainty about his character's physicality in light of the news of the doctor's enhanced biology, and the expressive limitations consequent on the use of facial appliances for the other primary actors just started to take me out of the stories.

This was not the case for Farrell and her loss infuriated me. In my mind I related it to the mindset that also produced Vic Fontaine, and I specifically saw it as misogynist, because I saw Farrell's performance (and Jadzia's character) as more feminist than Visitor's perormance, although I don't think I can defend that perception.
posted by mwhybark at 9:55 AM on September 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

Just wondering - did the fandom know that Jadzia was getting killed before the episode aired (either from news about the contract negotiations or publicity for the Becker sitcom, or finale promos doing the whole "someone will die!!" thing), or were people caught by surprise?
posted by oh yeah! at 10:10 AM on September 29, 2016

Good question! I wanna know too! I wonder if Jammer's would have anything on that.
posted by mwhybark at 10:12 AM on September 29, 2016

Implictly, yes, people knew:

"Of course, the most touted event in the episode is the death of Jadzia Dax (and all three people out there who didn't know about it weeks or months before 'Tears' aired now know), but what's interesting is that Dax's death is part of a much bigger scheme in terms of DS9's pivotal pieces, as it plunges the overall focus of the series into an abyss of despair."
posted by mwhybark at 10:15 AM on September 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think it was important that one of the main crew die to show the impact of the war. Whether this was intentional or they stumbled into it because of contract issues, it was a good move for the story.

The symbolism behind Sisko taking the baseball is one of those things that is best if shown, but left unsaid. Once the dialogue deliberately points it out to us it loses so much of its charm and intrigue.
posted by 2ht at 12:43 PM on September 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

It's hard for me to view Jadzia's death in purely story terms in light of all the Berman awfulness. I mean, I can agree that it's more impactful to kill off a series regular than a redshirt. But it's all so gendered, having her suddenly on the road to motherhood, having Bashir and Quark pining for her. If they'd killed off any of the male characters, I don't imagine they would have felt the need to up the ante for the death to impact the survivors. I felt too manipulated to feel genuine grief.

Well, six seasons down, one to go!
posted by oh yeah! at 8:10 PM on September 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Stay chipper for the Prophets! Don't let Kai Winn's frowns get you down!
posted by mwhybark at 8:51 PM on September 29, 2016

A while back I heard that Farrell is working back East as a yoga instructor or something these days, and now that I've heard her take on how she was booted from DS9... Well, maybe it's gossipy or conspiracy-think, but I can't help wondering if her scraps with Berman hurt her in Hollywood. It looks like her acting career came to a dead stop not long after Becker ended. You could say she just aged out of Hollywood ingenue-hood and got sent to the 40-something cornfield, but this is a woman who'd just come off a Trek show and a long-running sitcom with Ted Danson. It looks like she did one TV movie shortly after Becker ended in 2002, and then nothing at all until some fan film stuff this year. Unless she actually decided to leave Hollywood just then, I'm calling shenanigans!

I thought Kira's baseball line had an additional resonance, because it showed that Kira and Odo cared enough by Sisko about now that they knew that him leaving that ball behind was a really big deal. I'm also not sure if everybody would've gotten the significance, if somebody didn't point it out. If Kira had just stopped and looked at the ball sadly, it may have played more like it was just reminding her of him, like seeing his crazy-man clock or some other bit of personal decor in his office.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 10:57 PM on September 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Per wikipedia, what's she's said is that she retired from acting at that time because she met her husband and wanted to go focus on having kids/family. A sudden drying up of acting roles would sort of encourage that though.

As for whether people would get the baseball - the show made a major point out of the baseball and what it meant the last time Sisko was off the station at the start of the season. With current television mores, and especially with a shorter season, it would have been totally reasonable for people to notice and connect the dots there. In 1998 it would have been a big leap to hope more than just superfans noticed though.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:58 AM on September 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

As for whether people would get the baseball - the show made a major point out of the baseball and what it meant the last time Sisko was off the station at the start of the season. With current television mores, and especially with a shorter season, it would have been totally reasonable for people to notice and connect the dots there. In 1998 it would have been a big leap to hope more than just superfans noticed though.

Agreed. These days, she and Odo could've just looked at the ball, then looked at each other with more alarm than mere glumness, and that would've gotten the point across. And as you suggest, it had been a while (given the length of these seasons) since the baseball was a factor.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:13 AM on September 30, 2016

With current television mores, and especially with a shorter season, it would have been totally reasonable for people to notice and connect the dots there.

I disagree! I think (most) television and movies still cater to the lowest common denominator. For example, even though it was one of the more intelligent shows to come out recently, Stranger Things (no spoilers here), during one of its big expository reveals, felt the need to intersperse the dialogue with cut scenes of one of its characters. Instead of letting the audience make the exceptionally obvious connection they had to shove it down our throats.

While I certainly understand why they want to spell things out very clearly so as not to lose people, I prefer when my shows let me figure some things out on my own. It's a personal preference and there's certainly nothing "wrong" with doing it the way they did, but in my opinion it would have been better left unsaid.

This particular scene is especially egregious for a few reasons. The baseball's presence is symbolic, and symbolism is always better when left open to the viewer's interpretation. It's for this reason that I couldn't bring myself to continue reading the Scarlet Letter in high school, when Hawthorne felt he needed to spell out for the reader that the darn rose is symbolic of some BS.

When Dukat saw the baseball still on the desk it actually made sense for him to explain its meaning. It was a message deliberately left for him. A warning. Its symbolism had a purpose within the confines of the story.

Here there is no reason for Kira to go searching for the baseball. Even if she understood why Sisko left it for Dukat, it would make no sense for him to leave it now. It still has meaning for us, as a symbol the viewers, but no purpose in the story. It would have been a much better scene if all we got was a lingering shot of the empty baseball pedestal, and any viewers who don't pick up on the meaning would still be able to follow the story just fine.

I know this is a whole lot of nitpicking over a very small detail! Sorry!
posted by 2ht at 8:19 AM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

From io9: Deep Space Nine Is Star Trek's Best World, Because It's the Real World. (For certain values of "real world", sure, but hey.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:32 AM on September 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Jadzia’s death was sooo melodramatic. Bashir says there is nothing he can do to save her. But she lives just long enough to say her last words to her husband. About a baby that will never be born.

I teared up. Spock’s death in Wrath is many times more famous, but Jadzia’s stands right up along side it in emotional impact.

The battle was exciting. The structure of the weapons energy source looked just like the Ops section of DS9, which is a neat touch. My complaint would be that after you watch enough of the series, you notice the stock footage that is used again and again and again. Paramount really wants Star Trek to be their Star Wars, which is why they push for all the action and space battles. But until Abrams, Paramount never willing to commit Star Wars level money.

I also enjoyed the Romulan who riled up Martok. Such underused aliens. By the time DS9 ended, the whole of Trek showed us more about the Cardassians and Ferengi.

The weakest part of this very good episode was Dukat. “Waltz” might as well have been Dukat’s last episode, because he never lived up to the danger that episode warned. And how could he? Running around with the Pahwraits can’t compare to the threat the entire Dominion posed. I realize I say this after he killed Jadzia. I suppose my complaint is more about Dukat in season 7.

Maybe it’s because there is so much going on this episode, but the disappearance of the wormhole wasn’t a big deal. One, the Bajorans are annoying so I don’t care if the whole planet is panicking. Two, even without seeing the next season, it’s obvious the wormhole will come back, and so will Sisko. DS9 isn’t above hitting the Star Trek Rest Button. This episode suffers a bit just because you can’t help but compare it to last season’s finale where you had no idea how the next season would turn out.
posted by riruro at 10:43 AM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I can't help wondering if her scraps with Berman hurt her in Hollywood.

I don’t think that was the case. The amusing thing about their dispute is that Becker was produced by Paramount. So while Berman was trying to be tough on Ferrall, another part of the company was undercutting him by poaching her. If anything, the lesson is how little respect Paramount has for Star Trek.
posted by riruro at 10:45 AM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

From io9: Deep Space Nine Is Star Trek's Best World, Because It's the Real World. (For certain values of "real world", sure, but hey.)

"When Star Trek fans fight about the best Trek show, nine times out of 10 they’re arguing about the original series versus The Next Generation." What? Says who? I don't think I know a single Trek nerd who doesn't include all 5 series in this argument, and the majority of them say DS9 is the best one.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:26 PM on September 30, 2016

I don't think I know a single Trek nerd who doesn't include all 5 series in this argument

I know quite a few who don't include Enterprise! And a handful who begrudgingly include Voyager.

But that is a terrible opening line for the article and makes me question the author. Anyone who doesn't include DS9 is either a) not a Trekkie and doesn't understand Trek OR b) a zealous Trek purist who hated the gritty realism that DS9 brought to the franchise.
posted by 2ht at 1:35 PM on September 30, 2016

I liked the article, by and large.

I don't think I know a single Trek nerd who doesn't include all 5 series in this argument

This is a generational/scene thing: everybody kind of decides when they stop paying attention to new material. For instance, Abrams-Trek is technically Star Trek, but you've left it out of your own assessment of the body of work. I believe there are groups - sad groups - who are still stuck on Kirk vs. Picard. Generalizing about it the way they did was glib, but forgivable.

They're not wrong about several things:
* DS9 is the most 'lived in' Trek series.
* DS9 has their best engagement with religion.
* DS9 is not the darkest Trek. (Gonna give that to Voyager, with the disclaimer that I also ignore AbramsTrek.)
* DS9 does a good job showing the cracks in Roddenberry's utopian vision, while still respecting it.

I also enjoyed the Romulan who riled up Martok. Such underused aliens.

Agreed. I love Romulans, especially having come back to the shows older. They were better 'worthy adversaries' than the Klingons for the Federation, IMO - cunning, methodical, smart.
posted by mordax at 1:56 PM on September 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

In the news today: Trek Against Trump, a letter endorsed by lots and lots and lots of people associated with Trek. Some notables missing: Shatner, Stewart, Berman, Avery Brooks, Nana Visitor, Alexander Siddig, Colm Meaney, Michael Dorn, Jeri Ryan, Jolene Blaylock... but almost everybody else you could think of is there. I'd be pretty surprised if Shatner is voting for Trump, and stunned if Stewart was.

I went looking for a clip from the Taxi episode where Rev. Jim talks about the untapped potential of the Romulans, but it was not to be.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:06 PM on September 30, 2016 [2 favorites]

Rev. Jim talks about the untapped potential of the Romulans

That's kind of hilarious, especially since Kruge's ship on STIII was originally meant to be a Romulan ship.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:31 PM on September 30, 2016

For instance, Abrams-Trek is technically Star Trek, but you've left it out of your own assessment of the body of work.

Wellll, I was basing it on the line 'when Star Trek fans fight about the best Trek show', so the movies wouldn't be included either way. (But I wouldn't have counted it anyway, winkyface)

I guess I also left out the animated series, but uh
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:51 PM on September 30, 2016

I'd be pretty surprised if Shatner is voting for Trump, and stunned if Stewart was.

I mean, I don't think he legally can vote in America, so I'd be pretty stunned if he tried to get away with doing it
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:54 PM on September 30, 2016

Well, I was assuming he has a dual citizenship. I have some vague memory of seeing him on some show saying that he did. But from what I do know about the guy, if I found out he was a fan of Trump I'd keel right over.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:06 PM on September 30, 2016

* DS9 has their best engagement with religion.

This is, maybe, more of a reason that I bailed on the show on initial airing than overserialization. Also, while it may be Trek's "best engagement," it's foolish, disrepectful, and stupid.

I had an engagement with religion that continues, not as a religious person, but as someone who appreciates art produced as a consequence of engagement with *actual* religion, not straw-gods invented to stand in for the real thing. I may hate God, but I don't hate other people's religion, and DS9 in particular is deeply, awfully, unspeakably mistaken in its attempt to accord respect to religion in general and *actual* religions in specific. Any plot or episode that turns closely on the Prophets, the Emissary, the Pah-Wraiths et fucking cetera is an episode I *loathe* as, what, essentially cultural appropriation I guess?

But you know what, we have some doozies of soul-damaged faux-spiritual idiocy coming up, so I'll hode up.

For the record, I hate internet New Atheism with vigor, and absolutely acknowledge the intent in DS9 - and nuBSG - was to incorporate this huge driver of sapient experience, perception, and creation into the show. But DS9's incorporation of religion is on par with TNG's attempts to incorporate sexuality by way of Risa: loathesome and cartoonish.
posted by mwhybark at 7:05 PM on September 30, 2016

And another thing! I haven't done the due dilly in examining the sources from which the producers and writers sought to model their SF religion stuff on, so this is a guess based on the show proper rather than interview with creators or primary source material, but by and large it seems like they were inspired by and attempting to emulate "Dune" (the books more than the film).

I'm not sure why I see DS9's attempt here as such a dud - they sure do actually incorporate psychological consequences and florid hallucinations for poor ol' Ben, at a minimum. But it just fell flat for me both initially and on rewatch.

The other large-market model to hand in printed SFF in the seventies and eighties that might have been considered would have been (Tolkien and derivatives to the side) Zelazny's pre-Amber material, which was lauded in his attempt to write hard SF that incorporated gods in "Lord of Light". But the book is similar to TOS' approach in that beings with immense powers are written as aliens that have adaptive behaviors beyond our biology, somewhat like the in-universe Starfleet attitude toward the wormhole aliens.

Anyway, I loved Dune as a kid, rereading it multiple times. Ben Sisko, sad to say, you ain't no Muad'Dib, and it's your writers and producers' fault.
posted by mwhybark at 7:35 PM on September 30, 2016

Since it was in my NetFlix queue and I'd read the thread I watched about 10 mins of this episode before ejecting in favour of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend larks. DS9 was always my favourite '90s Trek, but I'd kind of forgotten quite how skewed my love of it is towards the early series', before it had to carry the clumsy weight of being the Lead Trek. Nineties end of series stuff was never good whatever you watched, always skewed by contrived cliffhangers for every character who might ask for more money. Latter DS9 has all that, plus "Oh no, the Cardassians have joined the Dominion" or "Oh no, Klingons swap sides" out of nowhere. I carry no water for Babylon 5 which I watched and enjoyed sporadically, but at least that gave you a gradual sense of things to come politically.

Not meaning to poop on people's promenade, sorry.
posted by comealongpole at 5:09 PM on October 1, 2016

I may hate God, but I don't hate other people's religion, and DS9 in particular is deeply, awfully, unspeakably mistaken in its attempt to accord respect to religion in general and *actual* religions in specific. (...) an episode I *loathe* as, what, essentially cultural appropriation I guess?

That is really confusing to me. You don't hate other people's religion... but you think DS9 is mistaken in attempting to be respectful to religions whether actual or made-up? Which actual religions do they demonstrate respect (or disrespect) towards? What culture are they appropriating? The Bajoran worship of the Prophets has some things in common with various Earth religions, but you can't say it's exclusively based on one religion. I think the show (and the Federation) strikes a balance between respecting the Bajoran faith and treating the Prophets like weird wormhole aliens. I don't know that Sisko ever totally buys the Prophets as gods, even when he gets Jesus-ed up at the end. I think he always thinks of them as incredibly powerful, mysterious aliens who have abilities that are godlike compared to humans. I think the rest of the Federation (including those on DS9) are probably a lot more agnostic about it than Sisko. They don't see the Prophets as gods, they're just powerful aliens not unlike the Q. The Bajorans see the Prophets as gods and they practice their religion in a way that is generally harmless to everybody else, so the Federation does everything it can not to disrespect those beliefs. I have zero problem with that.

With respect, I think you may be projecting here. I think you're letting your feelings about Earthly religions make you unfairly hostile toward this show's treatment of a fictional religion. The Bajorans are in a situation unlike any religion on Earth: they know their gods are right there in the wormhole, it's not a matter of pure faith. And their gods can do godlike things. Maybe the Prophets are gods. Or maybe they're aliens. Or both. We're left to decide for ourselves.

(Atheist with with some mild agnostic tendencies here, FWIW. I'd believe in some awesomely powerful aliens like the Q or the Prophets before I'd believe in the Christian God.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:13 PM on October 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

I thiiiink the objection is the idea that the wormhole aliens are (probably) aliens and not gods, yet are worshiped as gods. I guess that could be seen as offensive, like saying that of course in the enlightened sci-fi future we'll know that gods aren't real or, if they ARE real, they're actually just aliens. However, I actually always thought that DS9 was admirably ambiguous on the question of whether or not the Prophets were gods.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:23 PM on October 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

My issue is that by choosing to write about a made-up religion, rather than an actual one, the series fails to engage with actual religion: the Prophets are literally and actually a fake religion, one invented for the show.

This is different than writing about fake aliens or fake technology or what not in that, currently, there are no real-world examples of aliens or FTL. But there are real religions, and people that have real religious experiences.

I mean, from a practical standpoint, it's understandable that this show (or really, most shows) would *not* chose to posit that the Bajorans were somehow devout Muslims or, hell, Shinto believers or whatever, because incorporating real religion into your commercial fiction is a great way to stir up controversy and create hard feelings.

But what if they had imagined a real religion or religious practice (ancestor worship, say, combined with bloodletting sacrifical ritual and trance states, for example) and made that wholly functional within the series, and maybe just left it unexplained? Or what if they had very carefully modeled Bajoran religiosity and ritual out to the nth degree, like, oh, the Klingon language? Hired a couple of scholars of comparative religion to invent a calendar of holy days and spent time exploring how that set of ideas shaped Bajoran culture?

I mean, Gurm actually does this to an extent in GoT, right? And those religious experiences and cultural artifacts are shown interwoven into the lives and cultures of the people in the books as well as on the show - and he treats supernatural events as ambiguously related to religious experience. He's writing (iirc) explicitly from an athiest personal standpoint, but it doesn't prevent him from treating the subject and his characters' experiences with respect, in an organic and well-constructed manner.

I find this lacking on DS9. Instead, we get a few random holidays and events that appear to be invented on a one-off basis as the arc or the script needs it. We get a cartoon of a religious leader in Kai Winn who is clearly written as an antagonist. We get paired non-corporeal sentiences in the Pah-Wraiths and the Prophets. We have a bunch of stuff coming up next season that will give me a chance to write out whatever it is that bugs me on these topics, so I'll tackle it in more detail upcoming.

(I should note here that I actually see the depiction of the Founders and their attendant species' engineered religion and religiosity as more internally consistent than the depiction of Bajoran religion. I also acknowledge that DS9 had few precursors to look to for modeling how to construct and then write about an invented religion for a continuing television series.)

I remember in the nineties, though, I didn't really have a detailed critique of DS9's depiction of religion and religiosity. It just, first, rang false to me, and second was just not a topic that held any interest for me, any more than actual religion did (and truth be told, any more than it does). So finding it mixed in with my Trek was just a bridge too far, I guess.

Interestingly, in thinking about this, I think this may also be a reason why Buffy never really did it for me back in the day either. I mean, I admire both the movie and the series, and never remember watching an episode and noping out of it because there were angels and demons and vampires. Over time, I've certainly come to appreciate Whedon's worldbuilding and internal consitency. But back then that specific subset of fantasy fiction just wasn't that interesting to me. I guess this holds true for the Hellboy comics, and somewhat for the movies too.

I'd still say that Buffy and Hellboy (in the comics) live in more fully-realized worlds that incorporate supernatural experience than DS9's characters do, at least with regard to how that supernatural experience is systematized by religion or magic, and how it guides and shapes the psychology and character of individual protagonists.

Hm, if I had to guess, I would bet that Buffy probably had some effect on some of the plot points in DS9 from here on in, too. Hadn't really thought of that previously. I expect writing about this here will lead to more surprises like that along the plains of my internal landscape.
posted by mwhybark at 9:27 AM on October 2, 2016

Season Six is so good in spots, so bad in others, and I hate that it ends on killing off one of the best characters because Berman was/is a misogynistic bully.

Fuck that dude.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:40 PM on May 27, 2020 [1 favorite]

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