Tonight, our Star Trek: Deep Space Nine rewatch (on DVD) is up to “Bar Association”, the episode in which Rom leads all of Quark’s employees on a strike to demand better working conditions.

I swear I didn’t time this intentionally, but it seems appropriate!

Ferengi workers don’t want to stop the exploitation. We want to find a way to become the exploiters.
Rom, before deciding he’d rather stop the exploitation

We recently watched an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Accession, in which an ancient Bajoran ship comes out of the wormhole carrying a single passenger, who claims he is the Emissary of the Prophets. Kira recognizes his name as a revered poet from hundreds of years ago, one whom every Bajoran studies in school.

There will be spoilers for this 15-year-old episode, so stop reading if that sort of thing bothers you.

Sisko is all too happy to hand over the Emissary job until Akorem gives a speech insisting that the Prophets want Bajor to return to a rigid caste system from their past…something with implications both political (the Federation is less likely to approve their petition for membership, and the First Minister belongs to the farmer caste, not the political caste) and personal (Bajorans start deferring to “higher” castes, and Kira is faced with resigning her position to become an artist).

About halfway through the episode, I came to the following conclusion: Akorem was a fraud, put in place by an organization that wanted to keep Bajor out of the Federation, depose the current leadership, and specifically re-establish that caste system. They’d specifically chosen a figure who would be instantly recognized and revered, but who (as was mentioned early on) had no descendants, and therefore no one to do a DNA comparison against.

That’s not how it turned out, though. In the end, he turns out to be exactly who he claimed to be, just misguided about what the Prophets wanted…which was basically to remind Sisko to do his job as Emissary.

Katie had an interesting thought, though: If it had been an episode of Babylon 5, there’s a good chance I would have been right (or at least close). I was just trying to figure out the story in terms of the wrong show.

Maybe I was thrown off by the mysterious figure from the past who repeatedly asked the Captain, “Who are you?” in a dark part of the station, trying to get him to give the right answer. 😀

The original Star Trek TV series was famously pitched to the network as “Wagon Train to the stars” (Wagon Train being a then-well-known Western). Star Trek: The Next Generation was in the same mold, with Deep Space Nine described as Gunsmoke (in space!). Babylon 5, while not a Trek series, appeared around the same time and was described as Casablanca (in space). “Sooner or later, everyone comes to Babylon 5.”

So it was kind of odd tonight to watch an episode of DS9 that basically was Casablanca in space.

In “Profit and Loss”, the owner of a local bar encounters the love of his life who disappeared years ago. But she’s here with the leader(s) of a foreign nation’s underground resistance against a powerful military regime — and that regime wants to capture her companion(s). There’s also the matter of obtaining an object so that they can leave safely. She could stay here with the bar owner, but in the end has to leave. Meanwhile, there are shifting alliances as the bar owner has to deal with the local chief of police and other citizens with their own agendas.

According to the writeup at Memory Alpha, the episode was originally going to be more like Casablanca, even titled “Here’s Lookin’ at You…,” but they had to change it due to legal pressure.

We watched an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from Netflix this evening, called “Paradise.” Sisko and O’Brien investigate signs of human life on a planet with no charted settlements, and find a village of people who have been marooned for ten years in an area where no modern technology works. “Fortunately” they had someone who was an expert in low-tech living, and so they’ve built a small community there.

And they keep coming back to that word, “community,” even though by “community” they basically mean “what Alixus wants us to do.” It becomes clear that they follow her with cult-like devotion, such that if she merely suggests something — say, that one of the villagers seduce Sisko to make him feel more welcome — they’ll do it. Eventually it turns out that she not only caused their emergency landing, but created and still maintains the field that keeps anything technological shut down.

In the end, O’Brien shuts down the field and exposes the fact that their “community” only exists because Alixus wanted to prove a philosophical point. The Starfleet officers take her into custody to answer for the fact that she let people die because she blocked access to modern medicine. By this time it’s amply clear that she doesn’t actually care about the people in the community, just that it follows a form that proves her right.

But aside from one person saying “You lied to us!” no one objects. And they all stay, because this is their home, and they’ve formed a community, and because, Alixus claims, they’ve discovered their “true identities” instead of being stuck in a high-tech society’s pre-defined roles.

Of course, it would have been more effective if they’d shown some of this self-discovery, rather than that they’d simply exchanged a technological pigeonhole for an agrarian one. Or that the villagers were actually connected to one another, rather than simply that they all were willing to follow their leader.

If the episode was trying to make the point that even though their society was established under false pretenses, they actually gained something from the experience, it failed utterly. It doesn’t show a tight-knit, thriving community, but a bunch of followers who have just lost their leader. “Fortunately” they seem to have gained a new one.