The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Battles Lines

When Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Opaka visits DS9 for the first time, Sisko decides to take her on an excursion to the Gamma Quadrant. But when their runabout crashes on a desolate moon, the Kai is killed – only to be revived shortly after. The moon is home to two warring factions who are doomed to kill each other over and over – unless someone can convince them of the merits of peace.

I remember really liking Kai Opaka as a teenager, and I think it’s because I just went along with what the series told me – everyone loves Opaka, and she’s great. Maybe it was that Emissary novelisation giving characters additional depth again, because in the present day, it’s harder to understand. Opaka appeared in the pilot to touch Sisko’s pagh, before promptly being forgotten about until now – so why should we care about her death, or subsequent entrapment in the Gamma Quadrant? It’s not like she’s even that compelling a character, given that most of her lines are just her talking about pagh and prophecies, or spouting cereal box aphorisms.

The other aspect to the story starts off as traditional Star Trek, with two races locked in endless war, but it never really conveys the impact of the situation the way the likes of A Taste of Armageddon did. And where Kirk would have just destroyed the whole system and let everyone pick up the pieces on their own, Sisko’s ultimate answer is to leave it to Opaka whilst he beams away forever. In fact, the only reason he can even do this is the ridiculous “any old laws of physics in a pinch” that characterises the series so far.

Character moments

  • Sisko has a go at Bashir for daring to question his approach to the Prime Directive – you don’t mess with the commander. Sisko is far more Kirk than Picard in this regard, openly doing his own thing instead of trying to uphold the law under any circumstances.
  • This episode is supposed to mark the start of a spiritual journey for Kira, who starts off desperate to prove to Opaka that she is more than just a violent terrorist with a love of fighting. The Kai’s advice? Accept the violence in yourself, and then you’ll be able to move on. Indeed, from now on Kira’s spirituality will be an important part of the story, as DS9 ramps up the religion factor.

Summary – Battle Lines: Bye bye Opaka.

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