I know that Deep Space Nine is the Star Trek most likely to have continuity between episodes and ongoing storyarcs. For the most part, that comes from the Dominion and the conflict with that seemingly unstoppable force from the Gamma Quadrant.
But there are a few others, and one of them sneaks in and possibly comes to a rather unexpected end with this episode.
While it is true that the Dominion makes up a good portion of the ongoing storyline, and furthermore, there’s a good chance that it will somehow factor into some of the others down the road, it’s important to remember the show has also been working with the situation on Bajor and the politics of that planet. We saw a bit of that with Vedek Bareil losing the role of Bajoran Pope to Kai Winn. Now, though, is about the time when that potential rivalry comes to an end as Bariel, well, dies.
I did not see that coming.
Now, as a character, I can’t say that Bareil is all that interesting. He is a love interest for Kira and a very spiritual man. And…that’s about it. He’d obviously make a good spiritual leader, and even when the series did try to make the character deeper, like when he took the fall for the previous Kai in a way that more or less ended his political career within the Bajoran spiritual ranks, it was still more of a move of self-sacrifice and nothing that could be reasonably seen as a blemish on his record.
So, losing Bareil for me isn’t that big a thing. It’s more about how his death will affect Kira going forward, and she has some really good stuff going on here as she has to deal with the death of the man she loves and how, given how slowly he’s dying, she has to spend his last moments explaining why he matters so much to her. Bashir had managed to keep him alive far longer than he should have been between cybernetic brain implants and some experimental drugs that ruined the rest of his internal organs, but much of that came from Bariel himself insisting on such moves.
See, there’s a treaty with the Cardassians to be finalized, and he had done most of the negotiations. Now, it’s only time for the final signatures and the like, and that means Winn is taking over. Except, Winn doesn’t seem to be very good at the whole thing, and that leads to what was for me the most interesting part of the episode: Winn’s work to keep Bareil alive as well. She keeps saying she needs him, and one of the things about Winn that make her such a delightful antagonist is she seems so certain in the righteousness of everything she does. But here? Well, sure, both Bashir and Kira frame Winn as having ulterior motives for keeping Winn alive at first, and they could very well both be right. Heck, Bashir’s final threat to Winn ends with each of them telling the other that they won’t forget that conversation.
No, I honestly felt like Winn really did need Bareil alive. Now, if it comes out the shuttle accident that injured Bareil in the first place was somehow her doing, unlikely since she was on the shuttle with him, then that would make sense, but Winn seemed to be genuinely floundering without Bareil. She needs this treaty done, if for no other reason than to make herself look good, but that doesn’t mean she wants Bareil dead. So, for once, I actually took Winn’s statements at face value, that she really did value Bareil as an advisor. True, she probably won’t be too sorry to see the last of him, but so much of what happened came down to Bareil’s own stubbornness in staying awake on the experimental drug as well as Winn’s own desperation to keep him there. Once he had done his job and the treaty was signed, it was time to let him go. Everyone knew that, a point where both Bashir and Winn were in agreement. It was really only Kira who objected, and even she agreed in the end.
So, really, that was something that gave me what I felt was a good look at how morally ambiguous Winn can be, and maybe she isn’t just all ambition and hypocrisy.
Oh, and over in a side plot, Jake got a date with a member of the Saved by the Bell cast, but Nog insisted on tagging along and ruining things with his Ferengi expectations, something that almost ruined the friendship until Sisko of all people said Jake should fix it because the Commander had changed his mind about his son being friends with a Ferengi. And it worked because the two essentially realized that they had cultural differences that neither of them would ever truly get past, but they could just maybe not go on double dates in the future to avoid that sort of thing. It was a smart subplot with a bit of needed humor in an otherwise sad episode.
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