“Image in the Sand” and “Shadows and Symbols”

Either I'm your mother or the midi-chlorians did it, you pick Ben...
“Either I’m your mother or the midi-chlorians did it, you pick Ben…”

Part one: Sisko’s back on Earth at his father’s restaurant, still searching for answers after Jadzia’s death and the departure of the Prophets. Meanwhile, the war continues and Kira grants permission for the Romulans to set up a hospital facility on one of Bajor’s moons — only to find the Romulans are putting weapons there. Worf is still hurting from the loss of Jadzia, mostly because she didn’t get a warrior’s death. After O’Brien (in a great scene) gets to the bottom of Worf’s problems, Martok steps in, asking Worf to be his first officer on a dangerous mission to honor Jadzia. Back on Earth, Sisko finally has a vision and sees a woman’s face in the sand. It turns out the face belongs to the first wife of his father Joe (Brock Peters) and the woman is actually Sisko’s mother, whom Sisko had no knowledge of and who left Joe and died while Sisko was a small child. Sisko decides to go look for the woman and the Orb of the Emissary, mentioned in the vision, on the planet Tyree, and preps to leave with Jake and Joe. As the episode ends, a young woman arrives at the restaurant, identifying herself as Ezri Dax (Nicole de Boer).

Part two: We learn that Ezri was unprepared to take on the symbiont, so she’s having a tough time adapting to being joined. But she leaves with the Siskos for Tyree. Kira, meanwhile, sets up a blockade to prevent the final pieces of the Romulans’ weapons from reaching their base, with Admiral Ross stuck between Kira and Romulan Senator Creetak (Megan Cole). Worf and Martok head out for their mission to destroy a Dominion shipyard with O’Brien, Bashir and Quark along. The three plots coalesce as Sisko finds the Orb of the Emissary but becomes Benny Russell (“Far Beyond the Stars”) in a mental hospital being told his stories of DS9 aren’t real. Just as Sisko/Russell is about to accept this — and as all looks lost for both Kira’s blockade and Worf/Martok’s mission — Sisko/Russell does a 180 and opens the Orb box instead of smashing it. The wormhole reappears, and an emboldened Kira says she won’t back down, despite the presence of several Romulan warbirds — prompting Ross to step in and force the Romulans out. Martok’s ship successfully destroys the Dominion shipyard and Sisko speaks with the woman who was his mother, Sarah (Deborah Lacey). She is a Prophet who briefly merged with a human woman to … orchestrate Sisko’s birth. Sisko heads back to DS9 a hero, and the staff — included a befuddled Worf — meets the new Dax.

Why it’s important

Well, we learn that Sisko is part Bajoran god, so that’s something. As noted in previous reviews, the DS9 creators really decided to go for broke in the final season-plus. Here’s another example.

The continuation of the Federation/Romulan alliance also is important, though it’s annoying that we see no fallout after this episode — and we later see Creetak as rather buddy-buddy with the DS9 crew, including Kira (hmmm). Meanwhile, we don’t really see how the destruction of the shipyard plays in, but I suppose it can be inferred that it further weakened the Dominion.

Benny you need to calm down. How about a nice glass of kanar.
“Benny you need to calm down. How about a nice glass of kanar?”

What doesn’t hold up

In one way, these two episodes are tough to critique based on our usual criteria. We learn that Sisko is — and always has been — at least partly a descendant of the Prophets, meaning that he was always meant to come to DS9, discover the wormhole, etc. But way back in “Emissary”, the Prophets were all confused about what a linear being even was and certainly didn’t recognize Sisko.

Assuming the Prophets weren’t lying — which is a fairly safe assumption — the guess is that after they met Sisko, they decided to go back in time and make him part Prophet. This squares with what we first learned (sort of) because the Prophets have no concept of time and could move back and forth to do whatever they wanted. But, then, why the interrogation during “Emissary”? The Prophets should have been all like, “Glad you finally got here. This is the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant, as you call it. You may use it. We are of Bajor.”

Granted, that wouldn’t do much for exposition in the pilot. But it would have tracked better with aliens who have no concept of a linear existence.

Oh, and does anybody else think it’s weird that Sisko could take a leave of absence and just borrow a runabout? Wouldn’t this be like a captain in the U.S. navy borrowing a fighter jet to go home for vacation? Granted, we’ve seen DS9 officers take runabouts on vacation before, but not for three months. Also, where is Tyree? Is it in the Bajoran system? Is it just some random world Sisko knew about and recognized in his vision? Like the runabout question, it’s not a huge deal. But both are sort of odd.

Final question, with all of our heroes off the station in the second episode, who was in command of DS9? Ross is there, of course, but he was clearly dealing with Kira and Creetak. The only quasi-main character with any sort of rank whom we don’t see in part two is Nog … so I guess he was treating the Ops staff to some root beers?

Final, final question: Jake says, at the end of part one, that he’s packed his toothbrush. Unless this has become an old saying or something — which is possible — are we to believe that dental care hasn’t advanced in 350 years? We’ll note a lot of items like this in DS9’s final season …

I hope you want to spend most of the final season getting to know me!
“I hope you want to spend most of the final season getting to know me!”

Final thoughts

Ambiguity surrounding the Prophets aside, I love these two episodes, particularly part two. The cross-cutting between the three plots really works, and that things get better for Worf and Kira as Sisko decides to open the Orb box was well done — and the visuals with Martok’s ship are some of my favorite in the series. And though I’ve never been a huge fan of “Far Beyond the Stars” — Avery Brooks’ performance was over the top and most of the other characters played by the regular cast were really annoying — I’ll give the creators credit for calling back to that episode here.

There’s also, of course, the introduction of a major character in Ezri Dax. While the creators rammed a lot of “Ezri Fun!” down our throats in the seventh season — “Prodigal Daughter” and “Field of Fire” almost seem like they were required by de Boer’s agent for her to join the cast — she mostly works in the season’s first two episodes. The scene in the runabout in part two just after she’s been space sick was a bit much, but it actually gave Cirroc Lofton something to do, which doesn’t happen much in the seventh season. De Boer seems to have studied Terry Farrell’s performance, which was a nice touch. But season seven’s slight drop in quality can be traced in part to too much Ezri.

Finally, the scene in which O’Brien brings a bottle of blood wine to Worf’s quarters to find out what’s bothering our favorite Klingon really shows how good the DS9 actors were in their roles. For Michael Dorn and Colm Meaney — who had been playing these characters for more than a decade — the ease of the conversation was just so great. “You call that a visit?!” “I enjoyed it.” Perfect.

Oh, and gotta love any mention of our old buddy Reg Barclay from TNG. “Who could forget him?” Worf says, hilariously.

Coming later this week …

Nog does his best Corporal Klinger impersonation. Oh, and the Founders are dying, or something.

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