The Great Star Trek DS9 Rewatch: Image in the Sand

It’s been three month since the Federation invasion of the Chin’toka system, the murder of Jadzia Dax, and Captain Sisko’s subsequent departure from DS9. In that time, the Federation has made little progress in pushing back the Dominion front,, leading Starfleet to allow a permanent Romulan presence on DS9. But whilst the newly promoted Colonel Kira handles the Romulans, back on Earth, Sisko gets a cryptic message from the Prophets. Meanwhile, Worf is still finding it hard to come to terms with Jadzia’s death.

There’s a lot packed into the season seven opener, ensuring that, whilst none of the three plotlines are particularly good, it all feels like more than the sum of its parts. First up, we have Kira dealing with Romulans on DS9 – as we know, the Romulans are now our allies, but that doesn’t mean that anyone likes or trusts. So of course, even though this new Romulan commander seems personable, we know that ultimately she will turn out to be duplicitous. I get that the writers are trying to resist the temptation to make the Romulans become too friendly, but at the same time, there’s no real depth to them in DS9. TNG and TOS had some genuinely interesting Romulan characters, but DS9 has always overlooked developing the Romulans in favour of the Cardassians.

The second station-based story revolves around the fact that Worf is still grieving over Jadzia’s death. Klingons are usually much more accepting of death than humans, but apparently Worf’s sticking point is that Jadzia did not eat the heart of a sworn enemy (not even the Albino?) and die in glorious battle – all of which means she can’t get into Sto-Vo-Kor, the Klingon version of heaven. Never fear, though, as this is all setup for Worf to go on a dangerous mission in Jadzia’s name, thus giving her a free ticket to the afterlife. Much as such things are entirely within the Klingon way, I think I’m at the stage where I want a more nuanced grieving process.

Finally, we have Sisko back on Earth, working at his father’s restaurant. Conveniently, he’s remained aimless and directionless for three months, and only in this episode does he receive a vision from the Prophets. It’s here where Sisko is hit with a Late Series Revelation – the woman he always thought was his mother actually wasn’t his mother at all. There will be more on this in the next episode, as Sisko heads off to find the missing Orb of the Emissary, but, aside from the powerful image of Sisko digging in the sand, I’m not a fan of this storyline. In fact, the moments of downtime he has with his family are far more touching and enjoyable than the overarching Prophets storyline.

Bits and pieces

  • The very end of the episode introduces Ezri Dax, but we’ll save talking about her until she gets some proper screen time.
  • Kira has a new rank and a new hairstyle, including a couple of braids that I never noticed with fuzzy terrestrial TV reception back in the nineties.
  • Although it hasn’t been completely revealed by this point, I’m going to jump right into critiquing the Sarah Sisko storyline. Sarah was Joseph’s previously unmentioned first wife, and the biological mother of Benjamin Sisko. When Ben was a year old, she walked out on the Siskos, and never returned – by the time Joseph tracked her down, she had died in an accident. In fact, Sarah never fell in love with Joseph of her own free will – she was possessed by a Prophet who wanted to ensure the birth of the Emissary.
    First off, why was this even necessary? Did the Emissary specifically need to be the son of Joseph and Sarah Sisko? Does the Sisko family have some genetic predisposition that makes them particularly suitable for receiving Prophetic visions? There’s probably some predestination paradox going on here because the Prophets live outside of time, but would no one else do? What about a biological child of Joseph Sisko and his second wife, a woman who actually chose to have a child with him?
    Which leads us to another important point. We already know from Keiko, Kira and Jake’s experiences that a humanoid host remains self-aware whilst their body is possessed by a Prophet or Pah-Wraith. So, Sarah was trapped in a horrible nightmare in which she had no control of her body, and was forced to not only marry a man she personally may or may not have liked, but to bear his child against her will. She was clearly not okay with this, because as soon as she regained control, she fled. Even if she retained no memory, that’s still a horrible thing to do to someone, especially in this hopeful, enlightened future.
  • Why does Joseph Sisko have something as old fashioned as a printed photo? Doesn’t everyone in the 24th century use digital photo frames and the like?
  • Since the closure of the wormhole, the cult of the Pah-wraiths has flourished. This will become an important plotline throughout the season.
  • For some reason, the closure of the wormhole seems to have swung the war in the Dominion’s favour, even though there’s no reason for this to have had any effect. Yes, it might have reduced morale amongst the Bajorans, but the Prophets are still just ‘wormhole aliens’ to everyone else. If anything, the Dominion should be worse off, after a year of constant attrition with no access to Gamma Quadrant reinforcements.

Summary – Image in the Sand: The final season begins.

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