The Good: Good plot, Interesting characters, Fine acting
The Bad: Minutia
The Basics: Part of the essential Star Trek Deep Space Nine, but being the beginning of an arc is remarkably accessible to any viewer.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's first season finale is actually a very clever lead-in to the three part second season premiere. "In The Hands Of The Prophets" becomes essential to understanding the next three episodes, in effect making it a four-parter, the first of several longer arcs in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine plotline.
Ending the first season with the attention on Bajor, an old argument between secular and religious education is brought to the forefront by Vedek Winn, an ultraconservative Bajoran religious leader. Given the power vacuum caused by the loss of the Kai (see "Battle Lines," reviewed here!), various Vedeks are now vying for the job. Kai Winn (played by Louise Fletcher, Oscar winner for One Flew Over the Cuckcoo's Nest, reviewed here!) makes her mark by coming to the station and organizing a movement against Keiko O'Brien's integrated school.
Seeing the support she is getting around the station, including Kira's, Sisko decides it's time to make some allies of his own and he seeks out Vedek Bareil, a kind, friend, progressive Vedek who is the leading choice for Kai.
Naturally, being Star Trek Deep Space Nine, nothing is as simple as it seems and it's another episode where reading the box ruins it. I swear, someone at Paramount ought to be fired for being an idiot when it comes to selling these episodes. Basically, the episode is very politically aware and not terribly flattering to organized religion. That's part of what makes it so good!
In the process, a large chunk of time is spent with Chief O'Brien and his reactions to his wife being persecuted are well acted and second only to the character aspects where he begins to believe and accept that he may have been betrayed by someone he trusted. While the O'Brien's marriage has been tenuous since arriving at the station, this is the first instance where there is sexual tension between O'Brien and another character and it works out very well.
Ultimately, the only flaws in this episode are minor - Neela's reaction at the end seems anticlimactic, for example. It's an old argument, but Star Trek: Deep Space Nine plays it out well and remarkably evenhanded considering how questionable some of the religious figures in the episode are. One of the successes is Odo - every line he has in this episode is wonderful!
One minor note, and this doesn't ruin the plot at all, the first time I watched this episode, I thought I was terribly sharp in watching the very last frames of the episode. At the end of the episode Ops (Deep Space Nine's command center) is empty and then there is movement, making it clear someone was in Ops and observed Kira and Sisko leaving. It ruins nothing at all to say, that is in no way significant. It's just a completely random element and not some evidence of more covert goings on on Deep Space Nine.
There's a lot to enjoy in this episode; its pace is excellent, the characters are vivid, the acting is good.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Complete First Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the first season by clicking here!
For other Star Trek reviews, check out my index page!
© 2011, 2007, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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