The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: The Reckoning

When an ancient stone tablet is unearthed amongst the ruins of B’Hala – the lost Bajoran city rediscovered by Sisko – the captain assigns Dax to work on translating it. Between Dax’s discoveries and a message from the Prophets, it seems as if something important is on the horizon for Bajor – but will it be a new Golden Age or a time of suffering?

Those who recall my scepticism and distaste towards most of the storylines involving the Prophets will be unsurprised to discover that I’m no fan of this episode. Although it does have some good character exploration, this feels like a mere side effect of a largely stupid storyline, in which a Prophet and a Pah-wraith are released from a stone tablet, and decide to duke it out on the station in the bodies of Kira and Jake.

The point of the battle is that this is a long-prophesied Reckoning (with a capital R), in which the winner somehow takes all, leading to either an amazing future of Bajor, or a dark, miserable time. Except, it’s not at all clear why and how this would even work. If the Prophet dies, so what? It’s been trapped for however long, and the other Prophets have got along just fine without it. If it wins, a Pah-wraith will have been killed, but there’s a bunch more of them down in the Fire Caves on Bajor, so it hardly helps with ending that threat. I just don’t get how this Reckoning can possibly sort anything out. A Pah-wraith on the loose isn’t great, but we already know we can deal with that, thanks to the events of The Assignment.

You gotta have faith

I’m not entirely pleased with the deal either Winn or Jake get in this episode. We get some really good insights into both characters in the first half of the episode, and then that’s somewhat undone by what happens in the end.

At first, Jake is unhappy about his father getting involved in Prophet-related events once again – as he points out, he’s already seen his father in the infirmary twice because of their visions (Rapture and Far Beyond the Stars). Jake’s been raised in a secular environment by a father who was never religious prior to coming to DS9, so he already doesn’t get the Prophet stuff – and when its only tangible effect is that it hurts his father, of course he’s going to have a negative attitude.

Having Jake possessed by a Pah-wraith was a perfect opportunity to cement that opinion. His own father, the man who has always protected and looked out for him, chooses the Reckoning over his own son’s life – that’s the stuff that years of therapist’s bills are made of. But instead, Jake senses that the Pah-wraith possessing him is pure evil, and accepts that his life would have been a small price to pay to kill it. So now, instead of setting up an understandable conflict and tension between father and son, Jake forgives his father and completely gets it.

And then we have Kai Winn. As Kira points out partway through the episode, Winn is in some respects a figure of pathos. She has worked hard all her life to become Bajor’s spiritual leader, only to be outshone by the Emissary – an alien outsider. Not only that, but Sisko has a special direct line to the Prophets, whilst Winn herself never gets to speak to them. We should feel sympathy for her, but instead her actions at the end of the episode cast her as a villain and a coward. I think Winn did the right thing – saving Kira, Jake and DS9 – but Kira attacks her for lacking faith. The Reckoning was pointless, and Sisko was wrong to be prepared to sacrifice either his first officer or his son. Winn did the only sensible thing – and the only reason Dax and Worf didn’t do it was because, as with Crusher and the others in First Contact, the crew is accustomed to following orders.

Other points

  • Odo likes watching Kira eat. To be honest, I’d be a bit creeped out if my boyfriend never ate, and instead spent all his time watching me eat instead.
  • Unlike Keiko’s possession, Jake’s is physically evident, as his eyes turn red and the quality of his voice changes.
  • Benzar, the home of Mordock, Mendon and Hoya, was previously taken by the Dominion, and is liberated by the Romulans in this episode.
  • How did the Prophet and Pah-wraith even get into the tablet anyway?
  • Worf claims that “the Prophets are the only thing keeping the Dominion from coming through the wormhole”. Are the Prophets still destroying any Dominion fleets who try to come through, or are the Dominion just erring on the side of caution and not using the wormhole? Given how badly the war is going for the Federation, imagine how much worse it would be if the Dominion had complete access to their full array of Gamma Quadrant resources.
  • Sisko is now happy with his role as Emissary, something he has taken a long time to come to terms with.

Summary – The Reckoning: Good versus Evil – the ultimate staring match.

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