“Past Prologue” – DS9 1X3

I was bummed when I started watching this episode and remembered it doesn’t actually involve time travel, despite the title. If there’s a plot device I appreciate even more than holodeck malfunctions, it’s time travel.

What this episode does have is some significant early character development for Kira, some of your favourite woman villains from TNG, and one of the most campy fight scenes you’ll ever see on Deep Space Nine.

So let’s get right to it. I take you to the replimat, where Bashir is approached by Garak, the station’s resident Cardassian tailor.

Garak stands behind Bashir

Julian practically asks Garak straight-out if he’s a Cardassian spy, but Garak remains aloof, elusive and charming. At one point he lays his hands on Bashir’s shoulders, and I’m assuming this is the scene actor Andrew Robinson was referring to in the interview where he said:

“I had planned Garak not as homosexual or heterosexual but omnisexual, and the first episode I had with Bashir played that way gave people fits. So I had to remove that characteristic from him.”

This is troubling to contemplate – that some people read into a character’s sexual orientation based on stereotypes (there’s a big discussion about Garak’s sexuality at Memory Alpha), that just a man touching another man on the shoulders was enough to “give people fits”, and that anyone cared about said fits.

Anyhow, Bashir is very excited by maybe having met a real spy! He runs up to Ops and dashes all over the place, like a terrier whose owner has just returned from vacation.

Bashir talks to Sisko about Garak

Unfortunately for him, the folks in Ops have got real shit to do: trying to head off a Cardassian attack on a fleeing Bajoran scout ship. As the scout ship is about to be destroyed, they beam off the occupant: a former Bajoran freedom fighter named Tahna Los. He immediately requests asylum.

Needless to say, the Cardassians are not pleased. They demand Tahna be handed over to them, saying he is a Kohn-Ma terrorist. Sisko says he needs to investigate. He and Kira go to the infirmary. On the way, Kira says she knows Tahna and he is Kohn-Ma, but she thinks people like him need to be repatriated to Bajoran society.

Kira leans over Tahna in his infirmary bed

After Kira and Sisko talk briefly to Tahna, who says he’s ready to put his days of violence behind him, Kira decides to go over Sisko’s head and call Starfleet. She tells the (woman) Admiral that she thinks Sisko’s being short-sighted and doesn’t get the issues.

This is probably a scene that didn’t endear Kira to Trekkies watching the show when it first aired. It seems childish and impulsive, but at least it helps us to see a greater contrast with how she behaves later in the episode, as well as later in the series.

The Admiral goes right back to Sisko and says:

“Ben, that Bajoran woman you have working for you interrupted a staff meeting to tell me how she disapproves of your handling of this asylum matter. I think you have a problem there, Commander.”

Sisko decides to grant Tahna temporary asylum. Tahna is soon released from the infirmary. He and Kira talk in his quarters.

Tahna talks to Kira

Even though she’s not a Federation officer “in any way” and that she doesn’t get along with Sisko, she still isn’t radical enough for him:

Tahna: I don’t want to be a power in the quadrant. I want Bajor for Bajorans. I want our homeland back.

Kira: We have it back. And as we grow stronger, we’ll be able to defend it ourselves without having to lean on the Federation or anyone else. I know it’s difficult to see. After all we’ve been through, we want it all now. But with people like you leading the way

Tahna: You have adapted, haven’t you.

I actually like this scene because it’s refreshing in general to have a female main character talk politics and principles with a man and not have there be any sexual or romantic overtones. Kira finally says she’ll keep lobbying to help him be repatriated, as long as he’s really done with the Kohn-Ma.

Next up, DS9 gets two very special guests: Lursa and B’Etor, who right away run into trouble with Odo as they try to carry weapons on the promenade.

Duras Sisters

I want to quickly make two points about the Duras sisters. The first is that the boob cutouts in their armor are obviously ridiculous. I’d argue it comes out of a sci-fi double standard that assumes any female aliens have to be attractive to straight male human audiences.

But I actually love Lursa and B’Etor because they’re fall into a category where we don’t often get to see female villains: thugs.

They’re also usually fairly conniving, but in this episode they seem to have lacked basic planning and reconnaissance work. Odo shapeshifts into a rat and watches them as they go to meet with Tahna, and Garak spots them loitering suspiciously at the bar.

Kira’s still trying her best for Tahna, though. She gets him an amnesty hearing and arranges the votes necessary to get it passed. But when she tells him he doesn’t seem to care. He says he is still Kohn-Ma and needs to keep fighting for Bajor’s freedom. He asks her for a small ship capable of warp speed but promises there will be no violence.

Kira visits Odo for advice. And he hits the nail on the head (shippers rejoice!).

Odo: It sounds like you’re trying to talk yourself into something. Or out of something.

Kira: Either way, I have to betray someone.

Odo: The only important thing is not to betray yourself.

The only mildly annoying thing about this scene is at the end, once he’s convinced her to tell Sisko the truth about Tahna, he hails Sisko and says, like a parent or teacher forcing a reluctant apology from a child, “There’s someone down here in security who wants to talk to you, Commander.”

Kira talks to Odo in his office.

Garak invites Bashir into his tailoring shop that night and Bashir hides in the change-room and overhears the Klingons admit they are selling the ingredients for a bomb to Tahna.

With Sisko’s go-ahead, Kira goes with Tahna on a runabout to the place where they’re to meet up with the Duras sisters. The plan is for Sisko and O’Brien to hide in a runabout nearby and give chase once the exchange is made. That part goes okay but Tahna sees that Kira’s betrayed him. He knocks Kira to the floor and puts the bomb stuff he’s just bought in an antimatter converter and arms his weapon.

He points his phaser at Kira’s head and orders her to fly towards the station. As they near it it becomes clear the real target is the wormhole, which he wants to collapse so the Federation and others will lose interest in Bajor.

Kira faces Tahna's phaser

But Kira steers the runabout into the wormhole instead of across it, and fights with Tahna to stop him from pushing the never-seen-before, never-seen-again, bomb-launching red button on the runabout ceiling.

I am really sad I couldn’t find a video of this fight scene but you have to trust me that the choreography is like something out of 1960s Batman, only with less interjections of “Pow!” and “Crash!” At one point, Kira even sits on the floor and literally pulls Tahna’s leg.

But at the end of the day, she succeeds. The bomb detonates harmlessly in the Gamma Quadrant and Tahna is incarcerated back on DS9

What we learned from this episode:

  • Even though Kira had a violent past, she’s not a violent person.
  • Kira is a really skilled backroom politician but not really conscious of having that power and ability

Bechdel-Wallace Test: Fail

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