Star Trek 394: Rapture

394. Rapture

FORMULA: Generations + Accession + Strange Encounters of the Third Kind

WHY WE LIKE IT: A fearless script.

WHY WE DON'T: Another lameduck admiral.

REVIEW: Though Tribble-ations had a sly mention of the Enterprise-E just before it was seen in theaters, Rapture merges with First Contact's timeline with the addition of gray uniforms and sleeker tricorders. So the Borg attack at some point soon, yet they are not the locust of Sisko's prophecy. This is just background to one of the most astounding episodes of Star Trek ever put to film. Sisko falls into full Emissary mode, seeing visions that lead him to the lost city of B'hala and walking down the Promenade like the Bajoran Messiah. It's brave, potent stuff, and it even manages to finally convert Kai Winn.

In an episode steeped in irony, Bajor is finally going to be accepted into the Federation and Sisko is to be commended. Yet, his new obsession with his Prophet-fueled visions may threaten his career, and his final prophecy instructs the Bajorans to refuse admittance into the UFP for now. And just as Winn was coming round too (the Prophets probably just disagree with her no matter what). The prophecy heralds the war to come, predicting a Dominion attack on Cardassia (Jem'Hadar ships do look like insects) and Bajor's neutrality agreement with them by season's end.

Poor Kasidy Yates comes back to the station in the middle of all this. Fresh from six months in prison, she finds Sisko totally off his rocker, building monoliths out of mashed potatoes, as it were. Though she becomes peripheral in his mind at this point, pre-Rapture Sisko did keep her quarters untouched, and even raptured Sisko immediately includes her in his quest. He never gave up on her, and that's beautiful. When Sisko almost dies of rapture, she's very effective as the scared voice of reason. Jake has less to say, but there are shades of The Visitor in his reaction, and he makes the only decision he can, though it hurts him and his father to do so. The final hand grip between the two Siskos in which Ben adds Kasidy's to the mix, inviting her to his family, is a wonderful ending to a harrowing set of circumstances.

A few words on the guest stars, if I may, because they are the weak link in an otherwise awesome episode. Louise Fletcher is good, don't get me wrong, but this is the second time this season Kira sees a villain in a new light and that worries me. Winn's sob story proves her courage, sure, but doesn't mean she's any less of a hypocrite or ambitious politician. It weakens Kira's character that she should let go of her mistrust of both Winn and Dukat. But more on that tomorrow. The true sore point is Ernest Perry Jr.'s Admiral Whatley, an awkward performance that never finds the right tone, a mixed balance of understanding and bluster that amounts to no consequences at all.

LESSON: The First Minister doesn't need to sign anything for his planet to be absorbed into a larger governmental body.

REWATCHABILITY - High: DS9 isn't just brave to take the religious route with Sisko's arc, it's being true to the story it needs to tell. At once an eerie apocalyptic story and a rich family drama. One of the best.


De said...

While Winn's story certainly doesn't absolve her of her past heinous acts, I did appreciate it as an additional layer to the character. She's more or less been a one-note, two-dimensional character up until this point.

collectededitions said...

Amazing episode, and one that's stuck with me for a long time. Sisko's "I was almost there ..." (or "I almost had it," or something) toward the end is haunting.

Andrew Gilbertson said...

It's interesting that you see Kasidy as the voice of reason in this one. To me, this episode has a surprising-for-Trek tone casting the aggressive atheists of the Federation as the ones in ignorance and fear-of-what-they-can't-understand, denying the truth because it doesn't fit into their preconceived notions of the universe. It's an interesting turning-on-its-ear of the typical accusations against religious folk, and a seeming continuation of the criticism of the Federation's 'paradise' (that their smug insistence on only what they can prove limits their ability to see the truth); it's unexpected within the Roddenberrian universe, though appropriate to the tone of DS9.

However, considering Sisko's 'visions' found a B'hala (likewise, a telling scene in which lack of willingness to believe drives one to ridiculous lengths, as Odo tries to dismiss the location of a 20,000-year lost city as 'a lucky guess'), and saved Bajor from becoming the devastated front line of the Dominion War, it feels rather like the fearful Federations- from Dax and O'brien to Kasidy to the admiralty- were the ones in the wrong... and while acting reasonably from their perspective to perform the ending operation, were prefiguring The Reckoning's ending by letting their fear preclude seeing through an event that could have led to far greater benefits... if they'd had the faith to see it through. In short, though they were the voice of 'reason' as in 'purely secular, human reasoning used to arrive at this position,' to me, they were the voice of fear and generally in-the-wrong in attitude (though debatably right in action at the end, since, again, believing what they believed, what else could they really do? So if not 'in the right,' at least understandably trying to do what they thought was right).


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