Star Trek 431: The Reckoning

431. The Reckoning

FORMULA: The Assignment + The Rapture + Return to Tomorrow + Destiny

WHY WE LIKE IT: It's epic and mythical.

WHY WE DON'T: Unanswered questions.

REVIEW: After getting rid of the Dominion fleet in A Time to Stand, the Prophets promised they would exact a penance from Sisko, and The Reckoning might be what they were talking about. As in The Rapture, Sisko's actions are dictated by the Prophets as he is cast in the Abraham role and asked to sacrifice his only son. Poor Jake, he hasn't been seen in weeks and he returns only to get himself possessed by a pah-wraith.

So there's a war in heaven, so to speak, and if good triumphs over evil, it will bring a golden age for Bajor. The warriors have been trapped in the tablet awaiting release by the Emissary, and the Prophets speak of a cycle being complete. It's all pretty opaque and doesn't give up answers easily. From what Winn says about this Golden Age while trying to reconcile the Prophets' non-linearity, I'd have to guess that destroying the evil Wormhole Aliens erases them from the timeline entirely, so that their evil never influenced Bajor at all (no class system, no Occupation maybe?). Maybe it even means the Bajorans became the Prophets thousands of years earlier as their development was never stunted. If evil wins, Bajor might have always developed like it did in the Mirror Universe, without spiritual guidance and faith. Whatever you change in the Prophets' timeline, it becomes true for their entire existence. At least, that's how I read it. Presumably, the Reckoning was stopped from happening when two warriors were pulled from the timeline and placed inside the tablet, then returned when the Emissary was guided towards breaking the tablet (which is all simultaneous for the Prophets).

Whatever the reasons behind this holy battle, it is played against a very human background. In the end, not only does Sisko have the faith required to allow his son to potentially be sacrificed, but Jake gives himself willingly to the outcome. Similarly, Odo's faith in Kira means he refuses to interfere, and Kira does give herself willingly (this is all presaged in the two's couple scenes, way too sappy for my tastes, but they do pay off). All four characters' faith turns out to be greater than Winn's, who stops the Reckoning because of pettiness, jealousy, superstitious conclusions and/or spite.

The Prophets have never spoken to Winn in visions, but here, the beautiful Kira angel totally ignores her as well. Her talent for spin doctoring is presumably the only thing keeping her in her position, since their dismissiveness of her should otherwise call for elections. Would you follow a religious leader who's been personally and literally given the finger by God? This small but crucial moment more than any other sets up her final betrayal of the Prophets.

LESSON: Next time, just take a picture of the damn tablet.

REWATCHABILITY - High: The Emissary arc isn't always easy to read, but each piece of the puzzle is required viewing in my opinion.


billjac said...

I recall not caring for the addition of the Pagh Wraiths to the show. Giving the Prophets a straightforward good vs. evil story makes them much more scrutable and rather less interesting.

I suppose it does give everybody something to do, though, so there's not much of a show from this point on without them.

Siskoid said...

Gods that have their devils. In giving Dukat the chance to become the anti-Emissary, I think they fulfilled a certain promise.


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