the story: Refugee aliens from the Gamma Quadrant claim Bajor is their home of destiny.
what it's all about: Well, "Sanctuary" is about as awkward an episode as you'll find in the whole of the franchise. In short, this is because it's a one-and-done episode that seeks to read as an analogy to the State of Israel, but this is really hard to pull off because it puts the whole concept of Bajor into complicated knots the story is not nearly prepared to answer.
Simply put, the analogy is too simple, and it undermines everything the series had previously tried and would continue try doing with Bajor, itself a victim world in ways that are not wholly compatible with the realities of the Middle East, certainly not so I can summarize them here and that "Sanctuary" itself adequately explores. I'll give the episode one star for making the attempt, but otherwise it's probably best to be considered a huge mess.
Not the least, again, because it has no relevance to the rest of the series, without even a single major Bajoran appearing in it aside from series regular Kira, which for a story like this is just plain unacceptable and would never have happened later. Simply put, this is an episode that better deserves to exist in the first season, if it really needs to exist at all, when something like these omissions were more common, because the series simply hadn't developed enough of its mythology to accommodate such storytelling. And yet by this point, there had been several prominent Bajorans developed, as seen just a few episodes earlier.
The very strangest thing is that "Sanctuary" does portend the later Dominion arc, officially begun in the season finale, and so it actually stands as an episode of minor significance, which just makes the oversights, which scream in hindsight, so much harder to overlook. When you ask the viewer to think of the Bajorans as the enemy, not because of some fringe movement as in the three-part season premiere, but as people incapable of assimilating desperate refugees who in many ways mirror them, it stretches incredulity too much.
If not for that attempt at analogy, this would be a very easy candidate for worst episode of the series. Actually, that analogy, and how badly it's botched, might actually make things worse. But I will at least make it possible for other opinions on the core concept to remain as a valid reason to watch it.
- franchise - As analogy for the State of Israel, it's worth a look.
series- But not for fans of the series. character- Or for fans of the characters. essential- Or anyone who likes their storytelling good.