In the eighteenth episode of the seventh season of Deep Space Nine, I severely underestimated just how much everything was happening at once. NOW EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING AT ONCE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent, genocide, and torture.
GOOD GOD. Where do I even begin???
Ezri / Worf
SO CLOSE, AND YET RIPPED APART. I’m not entirely pleased with this plot because the big twist here feels so artificial and unnecessary. Plus, it’s not really a trope I favor or appreciate. That’s not to suggest that subconscious thoughts don’t reveal romantic or sexual feelings about someone, but love? Like… doesn’t love take a whole lot more than just attraction? Have Julian and Ezri even spent all that much time together since she arrived on DS9? I can’t claim to know that, y’all, so it feels like a very sudden twist that isn’t based on characterization, but convenience.
I say that because if this is indeed where the writers are taking this, they get to avoid the complications of Worf and Ezri forging a relationship. Of course, we don’t even know if Julian likes Ezri in the way that she supposedly likes him, you know???
AHHH I AM SO CONFLICTED BY THIS. I thought this conflict had actually brought Worf and Ezri closer together, but how is this ever going to help them remain friends? Also: I really want to know what the Breen look like under their helmets.
Till Death Do Us Part
Well, at least this episode more explicitly addressed the horrible implications of the Prophets’ demands, so that’s something? At the same time, the very nature of the visions that Sisko is given is ambiguous. For the life of me, I cannot see how marrying Kassidy is going to give him a life of sorrow. Not marrying her was clearly going to make him miserable! You can see it in the way he carries himself throughout this episode. It’s not until that scene where he stops her boarding her freighter that we get to witness the joyous Sisko we’re used to. Prior to that? He sulks. He can’t muster the energy to get through his day. He’s distracted. Avery Brooks’s performance is incredibly physical throughout “Till Death Do Us Part,” and it’s vital to understanding how painful this is for his character.
So why Kassidy? What is it about her that upsets the future? Why is her presence so horrible that the Prophets go to such lengths to tell Sisko not to marry her? IT MAKES NO SENSE TO ME. Of course, this could be as obvious as the whole Dukat plot once it’s revealed, but right now? I can’t make heads or tails of this prophecy. Vision. Demand. WHATEVER IT IS. It seems to be the “trial” the Prophets warned Sisko of before, but if that’s the case, then here we are. Sisko defied them in order to have Kassidy by his side. While I’m scared about the ramifications of this, I love that he did it. In terms of characterization, it’s remarkably human, and thus, I’m a huge fan of Sisko invoking this in such a metaphysical struggle. It’s his reminder to the wormhole aliens that his destiny only matters if he can choose it; mistakes are his to make, not the Prophets.
STILL. I’M WORRIED.
The Manipulation of Kai Winn
I’M SO FUCKED UP. I AM IN AWE OF WHAT I JUST HAD TO WATCH. Obviously, there’s the visceral shock that comes with witnessing this complete tragedy because ewwww gross THEY KISSED AND SHE HAS NO IDEA. It’s horrifying in that sense; Kai Winn’s oppressor has disguised himself as one of her own people in order to manipulate her. Yet it’s also upsetting because of how uniquely vulnerable she was to this specific con. Dukat and the pah-wraiths went after the one person who was so desperate for a conversation with the Prophets that she would believe this nightmare. It’s sad, honestly, because no matter how awful Winn’s been in the past, she doesn’t deserve this. Her belief in her religion and her own power is complicated, and she’s one of the most selfish characters on the show. Yet her desire for validation and acknowledgement from her gods… I can’t fault that. I can’t criticize that deep want on any level because it’s so goddamn relatable. And I say that as an atheist!
But on a base level, it’s never easy for me to watch someone get manipulated. I’m an outside party; I can see every tactic that Dukat employs here. The pah-wraiths trick her into thinking she got a vision from her Prophets, and then seed his existence in her mind. Thus, when he arrives, she sees no other reason to disbelieve Anjohl, Dukat’s fake identity. However, there’s nothing grosser than the story he relates about “surviving” the Cardassians due to a mistake, one that he knows wasn’t a mistake but a bribe passed on by Kai Winn herself. It was in that moment that his true evil felt the most real. This man contributed to the genocide of the Bajorans, was a key figure of the occupation, and has spent years since it ended maintaining the delusion that what he did during the occupation was merciful and kind. Here, he gets to fulfill that horrific notion and comes full circle. Now, he’s the kind and dutiful Bajoran who is here to save the entire culture, to guide Kai Winn to her rightful Restoration. He grants her glory and power, and together, they get to “save” the Bajorans.
Of course, we know that nothing good can come from this. Dukat has no intent to save the Bajorans in any genuine sense, at least not if he can’t be the reason why they’re saved. He has to be the center of all of this, and in the process, he’ll most likely find a way to hand Bajor over to the Dominion, too.
This is the eclipse warned in “Penumbra,” isn’t it? OH GOD.
JUST KIDDING, IT’S ALSO THE BREEN, WHO CAME OUT OF FUCKING NOWHERE TO SIDE WITH THE DOMINION AND THEY HANDED EZRI AND WORF OVER TO DAMAR AND WEYOUN AND EVERYTHING IS A DISASTER AND I CANNOT BELIEVE WHAT THIS SHOW IS DOING TO ME.
Help me. Help me.
The video for “Till Death Do Us Part” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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