Mark Watches ‘Deep Space Nine’: S02E01 – The Homecoming

In the first episode of the second season of Deep Space Nine, I WASN’T READY. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek. 

Trigger Warning: For discussion of terrorism, xenophobia, racism.

If this is an indication of what season two is going to be like, THEN CONSIDER ME VERY, VERY EXCITED. This is a spectacular season opener, and it’s also simply one of the best written episodes of the show that I’ve seen thus far. It works phenomenally as a chance to further explore the complicated political nightmare unfolding on Bajor. The episode fits in perfectly after “Duet” and “The Circle,” too, and my little serialized-drama heart can’t take it. IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? IN MY STAR TREK?


I still can’t deal with the relationship between Jake and Sisko. It’s endlessly refreshing to get a relationship like this on the show, and it reminded me of some of the better moments between Dr. Crusher and Wesley in the early parts of The Next Generation. While “The Homecoming” deals with a very serious and deeply complex plot for most of its run time, I appreciated that space was given to a story that showed us that life still goes on. At the same time, the end result of his first date ties in with a greater theme of this episode, too. As I mentioned during the video for “The Homecoming,” it was hard for me to ignore the real-world implications of Jake being stood up for not being Bajoran. While Star Trek rarely addresses human racism outside of metaphors or alien species, I felt that there was an intentional use of Jake to draw light to the victims of The Circle’s xenophobia. In our world, there are absolutely plenty of people who would refuse to date someone as dark as Jake. And they’ve got an entire culture to back them up on such a decision. That’s what we see here, too!

The Circle

I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that the events in “In the Hands of the Prophets” gave birth to The Circle. After the fundamentalist attempts of Vedek Winn failed so miserably, an even more conservative faction has gained popularity. Yet I don’t want to paint this as a simple case of cause and effect. This episode feels so rich and satisfying because it’s inherently so complex. Thus, it’s not fair to say that just one incident led to the formation of The Circle. The evidence in “The Homecoming” point to numerous causes. You can’t ignore the chaos in the provisional government. You can’t ignore the need for Bajorans to assert themselves and their culture as a revolutionary act.

Thus, Kira’s plan to rescue Li Nalas was destined to fail from the beginning, long before his own story came to light. There was never a singular solution to this conflict. There couldn’t be! Even if Nalas united much of the Bajoran citizenry, there were too many political forces vying for their own version of freedom. There were too many people already in power who needed to be appeased. Still, Kira’s acts were admirable and impressive. I think she was justified in acting as she did because at the very least, she saved twelve lives from servitude.

It’s fascinating to me to look at this episode in hindsight because a great deal happens in it. I say that now because I went into this episode convinced it would mostly cover Kira and O’Brien’s attempt to rescue Nalas. But the focus of the story constantly shifts, and the pace is rapid and relentless. It’s an exciting thing to experience! How the writers manage to cram a heist on Cardassia IV and a plot about terrorism and xenophobia and Jake’s first date and Nalas’s true history into ONE FORTY-FIVE MINUTE EPISODE without any of it feeling shallow or unfulfilling is BEYOND ME. But this show does it. It does it incredibly well!

I’m drawn back to the same points I made at the end of last season: this kind of worldbuilding is incredibly satisfying. Deep Space Nine is doing far more of it than I expected from a Star Trek entity, and I’m head-over-heels for it. I imagine that once I see the second half of this little arc, I’ll be able to comment more on the meaning of all of this, but I suspect that this season might contain more of this kind of political intrigue. I want to see more of what The Circle wants of Bajorans and the Federation. The irony of a Bajoran group violently attacking another species is not lost on me, and it’s obvious the show wants us to think of these things. But what’s their endgame? To expel the Federation? What of the non-Bajorans who have made Bajor their home? Do they not deserve their life on Bajor?

This is even further complicated when Nalas tries to abandon his role as the hero of Bajor. His story is heartbreaking because it highlights the desperation the Bajorans felt under Cardassian rule. The “fake” story of his heroism inspired countless Bajorans to fight for (and win!) their independence. Is that a bad thing? Of course not! But Nalas just spent ten years as a slave. He’s being asked to continue to inspire people with skills he’s certain he doesn’t have. And above it all, he’s exhausted. The whole experience is surreal to him, and I think the writers do a fine job in helping us understand why he chooses to escape from it all.

Unfortunately, Sisko’s own inspirational actions have an unintended side effect. Look, I just did not go into this show expecting THE FIRST EPISODE OF SEASON 2 TO BE A TWO-PARTER. What the hell??? I was so ready for a complete resolution at the end of “The Homecoming,” BUT NO. EVERYTHING IS AWFUL. BECAUSE NOW MAJOR KIRA IS NO LONGER THE LIAISON OFFICER ON DS9 AND SHE’S BEING SENT TO BAJOR AND NALAS GOT HER JOB AND what the hell is the provisional government planning???? Was this a punishment for Kira because she could have ignited a war with Cardassia? Do they dislike Nalas so much that they want him to be in a position where he won’t be in contact with the majority of the Bajorans?


The video for “The Homecoming” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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