The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Shakaar

When Bajor’s First Minister dies, Kai Winn is determined to take the position for herself. She decides to take bold action by starting a project to grow food for export, but in order to do so, she needs to reassign some soil reclamators loaned out to farmers who used to be in Kira’s resistance cell. Kira is reluctantly dispatched to convince her old allies to return the reclamators.

It’s a turning point for Kira and Bajoran politics with the introduction of her old resistance leader, Shakaar. In an episode that features Kai Winn as a classic pantomime villain to be foiled, Kira is sent to put Kai’s demands to Shakaar and their allies, only to end up joining him in a resistance that could escalate into a civil war. It’s a chance for Kira to re-experience the old days, and to realise that she doesn’t want to fight her fellow Bajorans – just as they don’t want to fight her.

Character moments

  • This is the first time Kira has returned home in a while. Unlike her allies, she hasn’t chosen the life of a simple farmer, and there must have been some trepidation. How could home ever be the same with so many people lost in the Occupation? How well can Kira function in peacetime?
  • This is also a chance to introduce Shakaar not only as a fresh new face of politics for Bajor, but as a potential new love interest for Kira. In fact, Kira starts the epsiode by praying for Bareil, and ends it by snuffing out the candle she kept alight in his memory. Bye, Bareil.
  • Kai Winn may be portrayed as an evil, manipulative villain who exists to be foiled, but she gets some great dialogue. When Kira accuses her of not giving credit to Bareil for the peace treaty with Cardassia, Winn responds that Bareil would never have wanted such attention, and that Kira of all people should have known that!

Bajoran politics

  • Would Winn have been allowed to remain as Kai if she’d been elected First Minister? For that matter, why was she running things by herself in the interim? Is there no Vice Minister, Secretary of State or similar role?
  • Did no career politicians want to run for First Minister? Is Shakaar’s popularity essentially the same as Trump’s – albeit without the stupidity and prejudice?
  • Who exactly were the Bajorans going to export their foodstuffs to? Both the Cardassians and the Federation can get all the food they need by replicating it. Is there much of a market for homegrown artisanal Bajoran grain?

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An excuse to include one of my favourite sight gags from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

  • Similarly, why aren’t the Bajorans busy building or replicating new reclamators? Don’t they have some industrial replicators from the Federation? Said replicators could also take care of their food needs, but the Bajorans may prefer self-sufficiency on that score.

Summary – Shakaar: In a galaxy where many resources are free and unlimited, the Bajorans still manage to be poor.

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