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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. elvwood
    October 28, 2015 @ 5:10 am

    (Ironically I got my negative comments on this one out of the way on the A Man Alone post.)

    First an observation (which is spoilery for a Miles Vorkosgan story so skip this paragraph if you don't want to know): it's likely just one of those weird coincidences, but it looks to me as if Lois McMaster Bujold nicked the terrorist plot from this episode for one of her books, along with an almost-homophone of a significant name. It doesn't matter because – just as it is here – the plot in question is merely the generating force for a very character-based story. Oddly, I haven't seen this similarity mentioned anywhere, even though it's blindingly obvious if you know both.

    Regarding how right or wrong the Kohn-Ma are, my personal feeling is that they probably were an unpleasant necessity in the past but have now become so damaged by their struggle that they cannot see beyond one particular viewpoint. This is one of the dangers of resistance, because resistance movements evolve to fit a particular role, and when circumstances change and different traits are more useful they often fail to adapt. Which is a tragedy rather than an argument against resistance! So look at what they did during the Cardassian occupation (without the smug complacency of those who've never had to live through it), and – if they were doing their best at the time – thank them for it. Then ask them to get out of the way.

    Josh, I love your characterisation of Bashir here! I hadn't thought about it in that way but it fits perfectly. And it's great to see him with Garak.

    Now to find some time to watch the next couple of episodes…


  2. elvwood
    October 28, 2015 @ 9:01 am

    Just to clarify, "ask them to get out of the way" applies to this specific group (and, I guess. any group whose actions now do more harm than good to the people they are supposedly fighting for), not to resistance movements in general!


  3. K. Jones
    October 28, 2015 @ 10:03 am

    Failure to adapt is a ghost that will consistently haunt DS9, though watching now I'm pleased to see that our Starfleet reps here are very, very adaptable people. But that is rather the point of the whole scenario. Change is hard. Progress is hard. Regress is often easy, but is also sometimes hard.

    Hardliners might have had to straight up abandon their faith in the Prophets to do what they felt needed to be done against the occupation, and now that fatalism extends to the dangers inherent in the Prophets temple itself. Conversely (see the end of this season and beginning of the next), hardliners may double down and try to make their faith work for their own agendas, sort of the opposite take. Balance is tough, and cool, long-lived cats like Jadzia kind of make it look easy through years of experiential difference. Even Sisko's patience here oozes experience, to be honest. A dispassionate eye, and less of a proximity bias. He's still got a stake in the game, but it's not the same stake Kira's playing with. It's hard to drop "life and death" stakes. But she does indeed adapt.

    Past Prologue is so clearly Episode 2. You get to DS9, the Bajoran station, in the first episode and meet everyone. Learning about Kira is the next progression, not learning about Odo. Odo can certainly come close after Kira (Odo and Quark, somewhat, too), as they're the historical connection to the station's recent past, but she's number 2 priority after the pilot, and even Bashir's wide-eyed excitement here plays better "before" his excellent and slightly more settled in professionalism in the Ibudan case in A Man Alone.

    Garak is an interesting case. I'm sure by the end we'll have reams of notations about Andrew Robinson's casting and the subtext with Julian and the savvy subversion and playing of spy tropes and even just the element of fashion that he adds to the 24th Century that didn't quite exist before. But here I just want to reflect on the fact that while he wasn't in the pilot, he is here in Episode 2 (or 3) and the trajectory of his importance very much echoes that of Chief O'Brien – there from the beginning and doubling in import every season. The difference is this time, they planned to plant that seed. With O'Brien, it was a fortuitous coincidence that Colm Meaney is just so damned memorable and good.

    And speaking of adaptive concepts, I love how the Kohn-Ma literally represent any such group, and not just the ones that were sort of the "current event" parallels during the years right around when this episode debuted. Since 1993 we've seen dozens of historical parallels. Watching it this time around I was thinking of completely different parts of the world than the first time I watched it.


  4. Ross
    October 28, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

    Sometimes, the universe has to drag us into utopianism kicking and screaming, whether we want to go or not.

    I'm really delighted to hear it. All these years, I had a big problem with Deep Space Nine because it felt like so much of it was "Are we sure Gene's really dead? Okay, FINALLY, we can ditch all that utopian shit and do the grimdark space war everyone always wanted." I really want someone to show me how to make Star Trek feel like an utopian project again


  5. Josh Marsfelder
    October 28, 2015 @ 2:30 pm

    Oh no, Deep Space Nine right now is powerfully, bald-facedly utopian. No question about it. Right now, this is a show explicitly about building, healing and moving on,

    Right now.


  6. Daru
    December 20, 2015 @ 9:17 pm

    "The Kohn-Ma represent an essentially adolescent worldview and state of mind that it's necessary to move beyond if one is to make true progress down a spiritually sublime path."

    One of the things that really got me into DS9 when I first watched it was the arrival of a deeper mysticism within the show, that had been there within TNG, but maybe sometimes less a fundamental plot element. Here, it's a part of the world.


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