the story: Kira finds herself caught in the middle of Bajoran politics.
what it's all about: "The Collaborator" is basically the Bajoran edition of the Cardassian-centric "Duet" from the first season, Deep Space Nine's first acknowledged classic. "Collaborator" is a huge step forward from the awkwardness of the Bajoran trilogy that opened the season, a sign of the increased maturity the series experienced during the course of the second season. It definitively closes out the original Bajoran narrative that had been embodied by Kai Opaka in the series premiere, "Emissary," who was eventually supplanted by Vedek Bareil and the eventual Kai Winn, who are engaged in bitter politics throughout "Collaborator." Actually, the episode may best be summed up as a commentary on the nastiness of election cycles.
It's a very Deep Space Nine story. Next Generation had a Klingon saga including similar battles, and on a smaller scale, the battles over Worf's personal honor. But "Collaborator" ratchets up the stakes by pitting two familiar recurring characters against each other, one who had been portrayed as a good guy all long (Bariel) and the other a bad guy (Winn). Since it's Bajorans, who tend to be about as lively as your average Vulcan, don't expect to be jazzed by the results. It's cerebral material, and as with the best of Deep Space Nine, explores moral gray areas, so that you're no longer sure whether good guys are so easy to identify. It's an episode the series desperately needed, not just another Bajoran problem but one that deepened the species and its status as victims of Cardassian oppression for decades. Suddenly matters aren't quite so simple.
After this one, Winn's role in the series had been solidified, and she finally becomes one of its great characters, villain or otherwise. That's reason enough to care, right?
franchise- You don't need to care about the rest of the franchise to like this one.
- series - A big one for the perennial Bajoran problem.
- character - It's Winn who wins.
- essential - By revealing just how delightfully nasty she can really be.
Louise Fletcher (Winn)
Philip Anglim (Bareil)
Camille Saviola (Opaka)