Star Trek 375: Accession

375. Accession

FORMULA: Destiny + Emissary + 1/10(Explorers + Equilibrium)

WHY WE LIKE IT: Sisko is of Bajor (and related Emissary business).

WHY WE DON'T: If you were Bajoran, would you believe that ending?

REVIEW: When a new Emissary comes out of the Wormhole, Sisko is finally forced not only to accept his role as Emissary of the Prophets, but fight for it as well. It's an extension of the Bajoran arc that's been building too slowly, but it's back with a vengeance. No longer content to sit in their Temple, the Prophets are taking an active part in Bajor's affairs now, sending their Emissary ("The Sisko") reminders that he has a role to play, a veritable test in the form of Akorem Laan, and then even an "orb shadow" hallucination. In the end, we are cryptically told that the Prophets "are of Bajor" and that Sisko "is of Bajor", and I don't think we ever find out what that really means. On the one hand, you've got the non-linear possibility that Sisko is a Prophet right this minute (so he is ALSO "of Bajor"), but could it be that the Prophets are hyper-evolved Bajorans from the far future?

Akorem Laan is as misguided as he is old-fashioned, but not a bad man by any means. His advocation of a return to the d'jarras creates the various dilemmas driving the episode (in addition to being anthropologically interesting). On the one hand, you have the danger to DS9 and Bajor themselves, because the Federation cannot abide a caste system. What Akorem is proposing would end the show right there, with our Starfleet characters leaving DS9 and probably the Cardassians or Dominion swooping in weeks later. In the personal scale, there's Kira, who must now learn to become an artist (and it's already been established that she has no aesthetic bone in her body). She's at odds with her own faith, but at least she tries, and there's a rather moving goodbye between her and Sisko when she talks of a replacement officer. Sisko too has a dilemma, and his comically professed vacation doesn't last long.

Though Akorem's finished poem could be seen as a kind of proof of what happened, the way Sisko deals with his dilemma has some serious flaws. Put yourself in a Bajoran's place (or Winn's place, if you really want to stir up trouble): He challenges Akorem's claim. He takes him into the Wormhole. He comes back and tells the story of how the Prophets chose him and sent Akorem back to his own time. If that happened today, the media would have a field day.

If Akorem was a surrogate Emissary, Bashir is O'Brien's surrogate wife, and when Keiko comes back to the station, ending O'Brien's bachelorhood, a comic subplot ensues. Keiko is actually fairly sweet here, getting the two pals together again. She's pregnant again, and the episode is of value to TNG fans if only for Worf's reaction ("Now?!"). Good times... good times...

LESSON: I know you were all on the edge of your seats since at least Starship Down, if not Chain of Command, but it's official, 4-shift rotation is better than 3-shift rotation.

REWATCHABILITY - High: The subplot is mere distraction, and the ending could have done with a corroborating witness, but the core of the episode is quite solid and at times even sweet and touching. The relationship between Sisko and the Prophets reimagined here will drive the series to its conclusion.