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DS9 1-20

DS9 1x20
"In the Hands of the Prophets"

Original airdate: 6/20/1993
Rewatch date: 6/20/2013


Vedek Winn, an orthodox Bajoran spiritual leader, objects to the way science is taught by Keiko, while Miles slowly uncovers an assassination plot.

Spoiler-free notes:

I'm rewatching this episode twenty years--to the day--after it originally aired!

Right off the bat, the writers are announcing that they're going to confront a hot button socio-political issue, namely religious interference into the teaching of science. Though the Scopes trial was over a hundred years ago, we in the U.S. are still fighting creationists in the science classroom who object to the secular approach public schools take to science--particularly evolution--and it's about time DS9 got down and dirty with something relevant. It's one of the few parts of the Star Trek formula that DS9 has been neglecting, and the fact that it has to do with science is a bonus for a science-fiction series that's put science pretty far into the background.

I'm glad Sisko is willing to look at it from the Bajoran perspective and teach his son to be tolerant. That is one of the most critical scenes in the episode.

This is a pretty good story, a Star Trek version of Inherit the Wind meets The Manchurian Candidate. I like that it confronts a big issue, that the A-story and B-story eventually merge, that it contains a cool villain played by an Academy Award winning actress (who won for playing a villain), and that it harkens back to the start of the show, highlighting the progress that has been made by the characters. Still, even though I can find nothing negative to say about it and truly believe it's the kind of episode Gene would have been proud of, it still feels too obvious--maybe even a tad trite--to me. Maybe I'm just not in the right mood or something.



Spoiler section:

When I used to watch DS9, I couldn't look at Louise Fletcher and not think of Nurse Ratched. Now, though, if I were to watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, I'd probably have a hard time not thinking of her as Winn Adami (interesting how close that name is to Adama).



Final Thoughts: Season 1

Best Episodes: "Emissary," "Captive Pursuit," "Duet"

Worst Episode: "The Storyteller"

As first seasons go, DS9 handles the inevitable growing pains far better than TNG. While the writers do spend too much time rehashing and remixing earlier Star Trek stories (such as in "Q-Less" and "If Wishes Were Horses") instead of embracing the unique voice that is so clearly laid out in "Emissary," the show still manages to chart new ground for Star Trek and create some truly awesome episodes. When it first aired, Trekkies like myself were disappointed that the show spent so little time on science-fiction, but what we didn't fully realize then was that DS9 is trying to do something more character-driven and philosophical. Where the first season shines brightest is in the places where it does what TOS and TNG could never have done, and it certainly feels like DS9 is already learning to let go of that baggage and move on.





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