Monday, July 30, 2012

Deep Space Nine 1x13 "Battle Lines"


This is another episode where if fate had pushed the series in a few different directions, it would be more significant today.  If you must now, this is the final appearance of the one Bajoran everyone could love.

Introduced in the pilot, Kai Opaka was Sisko's window into the mystic world of his new assignment.  She was an instantly soothing personality, and would no doubt have been a welcome presence for the rest of the series.  Instead, SPOILER ALERT, she dies in this episode and is reborn, but stuck on a peculiar planet for the rest of her life.  

In a way, "Battle Lines" is a startlingly mature effort that betrays the innocence that pervades much of the rest of the season, and a clear indication that life truly will be difficult for Sisko and the rest of the residents of the station and surrounding region.  It is also, in a less generous estimation, an incredibly immature move by a young series, in an episode that barely does the character justice.  In that sense, and in many ways, this is a fairly generic Star Trek episode, the judgment of war, but it's a curious crossroads where I want to give "Battle Lines" due credit, but also temper your expectations.  It could have been better, could have been more profound, as the character of Kai Opaka demanded.  Another way to express my disappointment is that one of the show's best recurring characters is killed off thirteen episodes into the series, and to put that into a specific context, this is a series that was almost as much defined by its recurring as by its main characters, specifically how well we got to know them.  We didn't really get to know Opaka.

Oh, and her successor is Kai Winn, an unintentional (at least to her own thinking) villain, basically her mirror opposite.  Some fans grew tired of Bajoran episodes, too much meditation of politics and religion.  I think that Opaka could have struck a better balance than, say, Vedek Bareil, Kira's doomed love for the first three seasons.  She was Deep Space Nine's Guinan (the bartender from Next Generation), an absolutely moral figure in an ambiguous universe.

Well, perhaps all that makes her fate in "Battle Lines" all the more paradoxically appropriate.  Go ahead and decide for yourself.

franchise * series * essential * character

Notable guest-stars:
Camille Saviola

Memory Alpha summary.


  1. Tony the series always took interesting and unexpected turns. "I'll let you know as soon as I finish making one." LOL

  2. Most of the twists and turns were planned and executed better than this one. But it did help set a precedent.


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