438. Shadows and Symbols
FORMULA: Far Beyond the Stars + Redemption + Emissary
WHY WE LIKE IT: Benny's back! Worf's epic quest. Kira's bluff.
WHY WE DON'T: Uhm... still unsure about Ezri and this retconned mom thing.
REVIEW: Following from Image in the Sand... Sisko's quest brings him to Tyree where he finds the Orb of the Emissary (cleverly using his baseball as a portent) in which has been locked (near as I can make out) a Prophet who once possessed his birth mother. The implication is that the Prophets arranged his birth, but the ensuing paradox may just blow your mind. I'll have an in-depth article hopefully explaining it at series' end, but the net effect, whatever their reasons for doing this, is to more fully turn Sisko into a Christ figure. I'm not sure this "secret origin" was warranted, and I can't say I like Deborah Lacey's delivery as Sarah, but it's at least thematically coherent. More interesting to me is the pah-wraith's "false vision" sent to prevent Sisko from contacting the Prophets through the Orb, thus sending reinforcements to the Celestial Temple and expelling the wraiths from the Wormhole. It continues the story of science-fiction writer Benny, now in an insane asylum and ministered by Casey Biggs (Damar) as Doctor Wykoff. The continuing story of Deep Space written on the walls of his room are a great visual and the offered white-washing a sort of Last Temptation, a symbolic representation of the dilemma inside Sisko: To accept his destiny as a human Prophet (and the sacrifices to come) or not.
I'll have more occasion to discuss Ezri in the next episode, which features her heavily, but first impression: Uhm, Nicole... Are you gonna play her like that? The character concept has potential - a Trill who wasn't prepared for joining has all these lives thrust upon her - but having her be a rambling, yammering bubble head may just push my patience to its limits. More on that after I watch Afterimage.
Following from Image in the Sand... Worf's quest to get Jadzia into Sto-Vo-Kor is joined not only by Martok, Bashir and O'Brien, but predictably, by Quark. Worf's fierce territoriality about Jadzia is evident as he baldly tells them they are unworthy of his quest, but they do make up, in what is probably the weakest scene of the episode. A bit sappy for Worf to tell them they were always there in spirit, etc. The mission to create a solar flare to destroy Dominion shipyards doesn't sound like honorable combat, but is at least described epically and poetically. Plus, they do get to battle with Jem'Hadar inside the corona of a sun, so there's that. Plenty of eye candy in this sequence.
Following from Image in the Sand... Kira blockades Bajor's moon to prevent the Romulans from delivering the final component of their weapons of mass destruction in what is probably still my favorite thread of the episode. Harking back "We're not going to win this with torpedoes, Chief", Kira is great when cornered into a desperate and outmatched position. Admiral Ross is the lame politician who first lets the Romulans walk all over him, then finally bows to Kira's strong will. When Ross tells the Romulans who's boss, he doesn't point to himself, let's just say. And to tie it all together, the reopening of the Wormhole is just what gives Kira the extra confidence she needs to pull this off.
Oh and following from Image in the Sand... Damar brings girls to Central Command to show off. One of these days, he's gonna get one of these girls killed, I tell ya.
LESSON: Sometimes, destroying a solar system is the only real way to show you care.
REWATCHABILITY - High: Won physically, mentally or spiritually, there's a proper resolution for each thread left hanging at the end of Image in the Sand. Skepticism remains as to the value of toying with Sisko's origins, but ultimately, it's all of a piece.