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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Crossfire (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a look at the 1995 to 1996 season of Star Trek, including Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager. Check back daily Tuesday through Friday for the latest review.

In many ways, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine has aged remarkably well.

Episodes like Homefront and Paradise Lost arguably have greater resonance now than they did on initial broadcast, their commentary on state authority and the erosion of civil liberties packing more punch during the War on Terror than it did during the long nineties. The Way of the Warrior even invites comparison to the invasion of Iraq, despite the fact that the episode aired eight years before the invasion took place. In many respects, Deep Space Nine has aged considerably better than its siblings.

Odo's attempts at redecorating were not going well...

Odo’s attempts at redecorating were not going well…

On the other hand, there are some aspects that have not aged particularly well. There are certain elements of Deep Space Nine that feel ill-judged or ill-advised in hindsight; for example, the thinly-veiled (and awkward) racial politics inherent in the exploration of the Jem’Hadar in The Abandoned. The relationship between Odo and Kira is another such example, the show’s central “will they?”/“won’t they?” dynamic seeded in Necessary Evil and brought to fruition in Heart of Stone.

Taken on its own merits, Crossfire is a spectacular piece of television. It is skilfully written and directed, with a superb central performance from Rene Auberjonois as Odo. The plot of the episode seems to focus on Odo working through his long-simmering crush on Kira, suffering a near breakdown and eventually deciding to work through it. It is, in many ways, the best possible story that could be told using the relationship. However, the problem is that Crossfire is not the end of this particular thread. It is just a hurdle for Odo to pass.

Quark serves some unpalatable truths...

Quark serves some unpalatable truths…

Unrequited love is one of the classic romantic storytelling tropes. It satisfies a whole host of storytelling requirements. It is a feeling that is almost universal, to the point that Odo never feels more relatable than when he is powerlessly pining after Kira. It has a clear arc and structure, providing both character motivation and emotional stakes. There is a tension to unrequited love that is fun to play with, that makes it exciting to watch. Unrequited love seldom puts the fate of the world in the balance, but it does generate considerable suspense.

More than that, there is a sense that it is easier for television writers to work with characters who have an attraction when they are not actually romantically involved. There are countless examples from television history. Many people consider the decision to resolve the sexual tension between Maddie Hayes and David Addison to be the beginning of the end for Moonlighting. The writers of Friends lamented that writing Ross and Rachel as a couple was a lot tougher than writing them separate. Chris Carter split up Mulder and Scully before reviving The X-Files.

The (worm)hole story...

The (worm)hole story…

All of this makes a great deal of sense, and explains why Deep Space Nine choose to push Odo’s secret unrequited crush on Kira. After all, the Star Trek franchise had never really done an unrequited love story before. Riker and Troi were exes who remained on good terms; Worf and Troi got together in a fairly conventional manner; Picard and Crusher were both very attracted to one another, but kept apart by their sense of decency and propriety. As such, the dynamic between Odo and Kira seems relatively fresh.

Given the production team’s desire to do something new with Deep Space Nine, an unrequited love story between two lead characters makes a great deal of sense. In fact, a “will they?”/“won’t they?” dynamic plays into the show’s increasing interest serialised storytelling; an unrequited attraction between Odo and Kira promises an extended sequence of set-up and pay-off, with the seeds of romance being established in the second season and playing across the remainder of the run.

Dress(uniform)ed to impress...

Dress(uniform)ed to impress…

More than that, an unrequited attraction gives the actors something to play. Rene Auberjonois is one of the strongest members of what is (pound-for-pound) probably the strongest cast in the larger Star Trek franchise. Auberjonois excels at finding hidden depths in his character, in burying kernels of emotion beneath Odo’s gruff exterior. Odo is one of the franchises most complex (and contradictory) characters; prone to overt fascist sentiments and outwardly confrontational, but also vulnerable and sentimental.

However, there is a fairly big problem with the romance between Odo and Kira, and it is one that is common to many of these unrequited love stories. Quite simply, the majority of the arc reduces Kira to a passenger for Odo’s angst and internal conflict; she has no agency within this story thread. This was particularly obvious in the positioning of Heart of Stone immediately after Life Support, suggesting that the big emotional consequence of Bareil’s death was to allow Kira to be single so Odo could more aggressively pine for her.

Oh no, Odo...

Oh no, Odo…

To be fair, the show eventually seems to figure out how firmly this story marginalises Kira; the big emotional centrepiece of Children of Time is Kira discovering Odo’s deep-seated love for her. However, even after that point, Kira is largely passive in the story of their relationship. The vital relationship-salvaging conversation in You Are Cordially Invited takes place entirely off-screen; His Way treats Kira’s interest in Odo as a tangential detail, a foregone conclusion where the biggest hurdle to a relationship is Odo’s self-confidence.

As such, there is a tendency to treat the romance between Kira and Odo as a story that is largely about (and driven by) Odo, with his emotional arc providing the character fodder. Kira’s emotional responses to Odo – in particular, forgiving him for his future self’s actions in Children of Time or his own actions in Behind the Lines – are brushed aside as unworthy of the show’s attention. Of course, Kira has her own arcs outside the relationship (as does Odo), but she feels very much like a passenger in Odo’s arc.

Hair we go again...

Hair we go again…

Again, this is not an issue specific to the Odo and Kira romance. Popular culture is saturated with unrequited romances that focus almost exclusively on a repressed and socially awkward guy desperately longing for (and eventually winning the heart of) a beautiful woman previously oblivious to his feelings. Unrequited attraction is one of the cornerstones of romantic comedy as a genre, leading to the emergence of concepts like “the friend zone”; indeed, the label “friend zone” can trace its roots back to the Ross and Rachel unrequited affection on Friends.

However the concept dates back much further. John Hughes is particularly fond of the trope in his own highly influential teen films; Duckie from Pretty in Pink might be described as “the patron saint of the nerd zone.” While Duckie very pointedly doesn’t hook up with the object of his affection at the end of the film, this was not the intention; Hughes originally planned for Duckie and Andie to get together. In fact, that is the default arc of these sorts of stories; from What If? to Love Actually.

Pouring over it...

Pouring over it…

The problem with such labels and such stories is that they tend to reinforce all manner of unfortunate stereotypes. Most obviously, positioning the lovelorn male character at the centre of the story reinforces the passive-aggressive suggestion that women do not like “nice guys”, as E.J. Dickson argues:

The friend zone perpetuates the myth that being “nice” doesn’t get you laid. Despite what friend zone apologists might tell you, the impulse to be a kind and decent person is not one that should be bitterly resisted; it’s not the equivalent of a giant chastity device, impeding your poor, helpless genitals from finding purchase at every turn. The idea that women are only into “jerks” or “assholes” and not “nice guys” is one of the most insidious dating myths of the past 50 years.

Indeed, this somewhat stereotypical fixation on male sexual frustration is tied into a whole web of related concepts, all rife with unfortunate implications; from the resentment implicit in the term “friend zone” through to the misogyny suggested by so-called (often self-described) “nice guys.”

Shakaar, and the walls fell.

Shakaar, and the walls fell.

Again, this is something that has become more of a talking point in the years since Deep Space Nine went off the air. The emergence of figureheads like Daryush Valizadeh and the so-called “men’s rights movement”, the issues of male entitlement as they relate to sex have come into sharp focus. (This is to say nothing of how these issues tie into larger aspects of nerd culture and gender relations as part of controversies like “gamergate.”) All of these elements exploded in the years after Odo and Kira went their separate ways in What You Leave Behind.

At the same time, it is hard to look at these stories about unrequited socially-awkward love without wondering how they fed into this culture; whether the abundance of these stories – and the unspoken underpinning assumption that the unrequited socially-awkward leading man will always be rewarded for his obsession – feeds into the frustration that informed Elliott Rodger’s killing spree or Scott Adams’ thinly-veiled suggestion that lack of access to sex (or “hugging”) was responsible for the rise of groups like ISIS.

"This is my 'longing' stare. My 'creepy' stare is entirely different."

“This is my ‘longing’ stare. My ‘creepy’ stare is entirely different.”

This is not to blame these stories for any of those horrible actions, or to suggest that people can be excused of responsible for their own actions or decisions. At the same time, it is easy to understand where that entitlement and resentment might come from, with popular culture so frequently (and so uncritically) repeating the same message over and over again. Lonely and obsessive behaviour is “romantic”, and there is an unspoken sympathy for men who find themselves denied affection by women who are oblivious to their attraction.

If it is possible to credit Deep Space Nine for being ahead of the curve in its storytelling for episodes like Homefront and Paradise Lost, it seems perfectly reasonable to call the show out for its failings. The relationship between Odo and Kira is built upon a classic romantic trope. In many ways, it fits comfortably with the production team’s affection for classic cinema and their desire to appropriate tropes from outside the genre to keep the Star Trek universe relatively fresh. At the same time, there is something quite uncomfortable about its sexual politics in hindsight.

On the Worf path...

On the Worf path…

To be fair, Crossfire does as good a job as it can do with this story. Certainly, it sounds much better than the original ending planned for the episode. As René Echevarria explains in The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion:

“I’d structured the story so that everything builds to this ‘big moment’ where there’s an explosion and a fireball is coming [at Shakaar and Kira],” the writer explains. “Odo has to decide which one to protect. Does he do his job, or protect his love? I had him morph and envelop Shakaar, and the blast almost kills Kira. But the overriding message was that Odo [made his choice] out of spite and it just didn’t work. So we massively overhauled the story and made it a much more gentle show.”

Odo has always been (and will continue to be) a somewhat ambiguous character. Much like Worf, Deep Space Nine makes a point to emphasise that Odo operates according to his own morality and logic. However, allowing Kira to almost die out of spite makes him seem more malicious and entitled.

Cheers, big ears...

Cheers, big ears…

Echevarria’s script is quite careful in how it handles the dynamic. The script never blames Kira for being oblivious to Odo’s affections. In fact, when he tries to talk to her at the end, Kira is incredibly receptive to whatever he has to say. Although she remains oblivious to the nature of Odo’s personal crisis, she is a good enough friend that she can tell something is bothering him. After he announces plans to end their morning briefings, she seems to grasp there’s more to it. “Odo, is something wrong?” she asks. When he fobs her off, she doesn’t press the matter.

Taken by itself, Crossfire seems to have precisely the right attitude to Odo’s crisis. Drawn to the Constable’s quarters by the noise, Quark offers some surprisingly sensitive advice to his long-term frenemy. “The way I see it, you’ve either got to tell her how you feel, or forget about her and get on with your life,” Quark instructs Odo. It is good advice. It is perhaps the best advice that could be offered to somebody in Odo’s situation; acknowledging that an awkward social situation causes a problem and it needs to be addressed in some way.

Sexy Odo pose!

Sexy Odo pose!

In fact, the entire conversation between Odo and Quark represents one of the highlights of the show’s seven-season run. When Behr agreed to work on Deep Space Nine, his approach to characters was a major condition; rather pointedly, he wanted O’Brien and Bashir to have a friendship that felt “real.” The interpersonal dynamics on Deep Space Nine tend to feel richer and more complex than on other Star Trek shows, if only because characters so rarely directly state what they feel to one another, and because there are so few “stock” friendships.

Bashir and O’Brien are best friends, even if they are never as explicit about it as Data and Geordi on Star Trek: The Next Generation or Paris and Kim on Star Trek: Voyager. Bashir and Garak as friendly to the point where they seem to flirt with one another, but the show never really has them acknowledge their proximity. Sisko clearly has a fondness for Quark, recognising his importance to the station more than Kira, as much as he might hide it behind staged (and occasionally justified) contempt.

For a shape-shifter, Odo really needs to work on that "come hither" look.

For a shape-shifter, Odo really needs to work on that “come hither” look.

Odo’s relationship with Worf is never in focus, but it still feels intriguing. In Crossfire, the two trade secrets for being antisocial. (“Make sure everyone knows they can’t just drop by your quarters to say hello,” Odo advises. “If someone does, whatever happens, don’t make them feel welcome.”) In Sons of Mogh, Odo makes sure Worf knows that he is doing him a favour by employing Kurn. In The Bar Association, Odo has a ready-prepared list of Worf’s more ridiculous failings as security chief ready for the first time the Klingon challenges his competence.

Quark and Odo share one of the franchise’s more nuanced interpersonal relationships. They are clearly friends, even if they would never explicitly acknowledge it. Indeed, one of the nicer aspects of What You Leave Behind is its stubborn refusal to acknowledge it. Indeed, Deep Space Nine occasionally asks whether the characters are even aware of their friendship; the show seems to suggest Quark is much more self-aware about the relationship than Odo. Odo, with Odo occasionally returning a favour.

Temple of doom?

Temple of doom?

That is the beauty of the scene in Odo’s quarters. Quark is very clearly concerned about his friend. Even when he tries to frame his concern as naked self-interest, he also couches it in a story that plays to Odo’s self-image. Quark knows enough that Odo cares little for Quark’s estimation of him, but recognises that Odo takes pride in how others see him. (What could be more important to a shape-shifter?) And so “the manhunt pool” plays to that. It communicates to Odo that people care about him, while allowed Quark to veil his concern.

Crossfire ends with Odo seemingly accepting that Kira is in love with Shakaar and that she is unlikely to ever see Odo as more than just a friend. Of course, Odo’s decision to cancel those morning briefings could be seen to devalue their friendship, as if to suggest that Odo is not interested in being Kira’s friend if they cannot become romantically involved. At the same time, it is a sensible emotional move from Odo. It allows the character to step out of that emotional minefield. It hurts, but it affords him and (arguably) Kira their dignity.

"Captain Sisko's been complaining that you don't leave coffee out for him during his briefings..."

“Captain Sisko’s been complaining that you don’t leave coffee out for him during his briefings…”

If Crossfire marked the end of this particular story thread, it would be a phenomenal piece of television. It is emotionally honest and sincere. It is heartbreaking and affecting. Rene Auberjonois is amazing, and it is impossible not to feel sorry for Odo as he finds himself trapped a very awkward situation that he is not prepared to navigate. In fact, there is something quite clever about the ending of Crossfire, representing something of a subversion of how the Star Trek franchise tends to approach its “alien” characters.

After all, characters like Spock and Data (and the EMH and Seven of Nine) begin from an alien perspective and inevitably move closer and closer to humanity. Spock learns to talk about his feelings in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Data articulates his desire to be human in Encounter at Farpoint, his quest generating a number of interesting stories. The EMH brushes up against his own identity and self-determination repeatedly over the run of Voyager, while Janeway mentors Seven of Nine.

Ministering to his people...

Ministering to his people…

In contrast, Deep Space Nine is more willing to allow the aliens to remain alien. This is perhaps literalised in the way that the series ends up non-committal on Bajor’s admission to the Federation. Worf is allowed to be more Klingon on Deep Space Nine than he was on The Next Generation. Odo eventually returns home to be with his people, leaving all of his friends behind. Crossfire allows Odo to reject the standard Star Trek arc of humanising the alien, by having Odo reject the sort of emotions that Spock came to accept and which Data fetishised.

Conversing with Odo in his quarters, Quark seems to imply that perhaps Odo has been spending too much time pretending to be a humanoid. Surveying the damage that Odo has done to his quarters, Quark initially suspects that Odo did it while taking the form of a wild beast. “I knew it would come to this,” he observes. “You take the form of an animal, you’re going to end up behaving like one.” Instead, it seems that perhaps Odo has been playing at being a person for too long. The ending of Crossfire suggests the character is rejecting the emotions that come with humanity.

Best of frenemies...

Best of frenemies…

Of course, while the ending of Crossfire works very well on its own terms, it is somewhat undercut by the crushing weight of inevitability that will eventually force Odo and Kira together. Crossfire would be a wry and subversive end to the emotional arc, a resolution to Odo’s unrequited crush that acknowledged the messiness of life. Unfortunately, Crossfire is not the end. Instead, it represents a bump in the road. It becomes little more than a hurdle that both characters have to surpass in order to be together. (Most of the surpassing is ultimately done off-screen.)

Crossfire also provides an opportunity to bring Bajor back to the fore, and to reintroduce the character of Shakaar Edon. Shakaar is an intriguing character. He was introduced in Shakaar as a character of significant importance to the overall mythos of Deep Space Nine. Not only did he appear in an episode bearing his name, but he was also immediately established as the First Minister of Bajor and as a foil to the recurring antagonist Kai Winn. Shakaar was clearly meant to be a big deal when he was introduced.

That Shakaar is a smooth criminal... er... former terrorist.

That Shakaar is a smooth criminal… er… former terrorist.

Shakaar’s name is dropped frequently over the remainder of the show; he is mentioned in almost twenty episodes, more than ten percent of the series’ run. Given that he is the most powerful political figure on the planet that Sisko was sent to induct into the Federation in Emissary, Shakaar should be a pretty big deal. In theory, Shakaar should be as important to the show’s future as characters like Dukat or Damar or the Female Changeling. At the very least, he should be as important as Gowran.

Instead, Shakaar only ever appears in three episodes. He appears less frequently than Grand Negus Zek. That is the same number of episodes to feature Minister Jaro, the one-shot villain of the multi-part story that opened the second season. More than that, the episodes in which Shakaar appears seem to have very little to do with Bajor itself. Shakaar is more interested in setting him up than developing Bajor. Crossfire focuses more on his relationship to Kira than the Bajoran politics. The Begotten casts him as comedy boyfriend opposite O’Brien.

Back in the pool...

Back in the pool…

In contrast, Shakaar is largely absent from episodes in which it would make sense for him to appear as First Minister of Bajor. He does not appear in Rapture. Kai Winn negotiates with Weyoun in In the Cards. He is completely removed from the sixth season Dominion arc. According to Ronald D. Moore, Shakaar’s absence from these stories was purely a practical concern:

In both the examples you’ve cited, we had originally put Shakaar in the episode, but then dropped him for budgetary reasons.  His presence in either show would’ve been nice and added some texture, but in the end, we could tell the stories without him and so when something had to go, Shakaar was dropped both times.

It is certainly a fair point. Those stories work well enough without Shakaar. The character would add little to the character dynamics; he is reasonable enough that he would probably align with the heroes and adopt a pragmatic approach. As such, it is probably more interesting to involve Kai Winn in those plots; she is more likely to generate conflict and ambiguity in her interactions with the cast.

Just to know you are Nerys...

Just to know you are Nerys…

At the same time, Shakaar’s absence is notable given how much attention was paid to his introduction and to establishing him. He is the First Minister of Bajor and Kira’s boyfriend. It does not seem unreasonable to expect the character to pop up a few times over the remaining seasons. Actor Duncan Regehr confessed some frustration about the way the character was treated:

“I know they talk about Shakaar when he’s not there, like this entity who never seems to appear,” he explains.  “So whenever I am in an episode it’s as if I’ve just walked in out of the blue.  The regulars may know what’s going on but half the time it’s a mystery to me.  So I’m waiting for a bit more of development to help define the relationship between him and Kira.  One thing I can say is that Nana Visitor is a hell of a lot of fun to work with,” he laughs.  “She’s really talented and has a quick wit, so we have a good time whenever our characters do get the chance to see each other.”

While it is hard to specifically cite episodes that were diminished by his absence or roles he should have played in the on-going serialised story arc, Shakaar does feel very much like a missed opportunity for the show. Certainly, the way that the show chose to use him seems rather strange given how much work Shakaar put into his introduction.

"In politics, you're either First Minister or Last Minister."

“In politics, you’re either First Minister or Last Minister.”

Then again, Shakaar’s lack of importance to the on-going narrative speaks to a shift taking place in the focus and emphasis of Deep Space Nine during its fourth season. Bajor had been an essential part of the genesis of Deep Space Nine, with Benjamin Sisko assigned to the eponymous space station to oversee the recovery of a war-scarred world and to transition the planet into the Federation. Many of the show’s early episodes focused on the legacy of the violence perpetrated against Bajor and the planet’s recovery – Progress, Duet, The Circle, The Collaborator.

However, the show had begun to lose interest in the politics and plight of Bajor during the third season. There were several reasons for this. Most obviously, the focus of the show had shifted from the recovery of Bajor to the discovery of the Dominion. More than that, it seemed like Bajor had come a long way in the first three seasons of the show, to the point that it was harder and harder to tell stories about the consequences of the Occupation without feeling like the production team were treading water.

"So... Bajor's doin' pretty okay for itself, eh?"

“So… Bajor’s doin’ pretty okay for itself, eh?”

However, there was also a sense that the studio (and the audience) were not exactly thrilled with stories focusing on Bajoran politics. Perhaps explaining the clear move away from Bajoran stories from the fourth season onwards, Ira Steven Behr conceded that the stationary nature of Deep Space Nine was a bone of contention with the network:

When Paramount reared its heard, 90 percent of the time it was all about the budget, and that we could live with because if we got into a hole, we’d dig ourselves out of the hole. But when it wasn’t the budget, it was insane. The three big notes [from the studio] the end of the first or second season were: 1) Put engines on the station and turn it into a ship. We said no. 2) Get rid of Bashir [the chief medical officer, played Alexander Siddig], that character doesn’t seem to be clicking. We said no. And 3) What do you think about bringing someone over from Next Generation because we need to get fans to accept this as a Star Trek series? So Worf came on.

It is no coincidence that Worf arrived at the point that the show disentangled itself from Bajoran politics. The start of the fourth season represents one of the relatively few points at which the production team found themselves reworking the show to appease the studio. It would appear that part of that retool was a shift in emphasis away from the politics of post-Occupation Bajor.

"I can't believe you guys invite Zek back more often than me!"

“I can’t believe you guys invite Zek back more often than me!”

In The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, Nana Visitor acknowledged that this loss of focus on Bajoran politics overlapped with the arrival of Worf and the start of the Klingon war:

“I felt there would probably be less of a focus on Bajoran activity, and I understood that was the point,” she notes. “There’s a hardcore group of people out there who are interested in Bajor and then there’s a lot that aren’t.”

It is hard to argue with Visitor’s assessment of the situation. As interesting as the Bajor-centric stories might have been (and stories like The Circle and The Collaborator are largely underrated), the larger audience did not seem particularly engaged with them.

"So, Odo... where's MY coffee?"

“So, Odo… where’s MY coffee?”

Reflecting on the light retool at the start of the fourth season, René Echevarria joked that the writing were trying to figure out where the show had gone astray, “What did we do wrong? Maybe we shouldn’t be doing these three-part episodes about Bajoran politics.” It would seem that the ratings – at least at first glance and for the first two seasons of the show – would bear that theory out. Even when the ratings were good for Bajoran episodes (The Circle and The Siege), they were lower than for surrounding episodes (like Invasive Procedures or Melora).

Duet and In the Hands of the Prophets scored the lowest ratings of the series’ freshman season, the only episodes to dip below a “9.0” in that first year. Although viewer attrition over the course of a season makes sense, it is harder to explain the failure of The Collaborator during the second season; the episode earned a meager 6.6, becoming the lowest rated episode of the first two seasons by a whole 1.1 rating points. By the mid-fourth season, The Collaborator was still only the show’s second-lowest-rated episode, ahead of only Facets.

"This is much more fun than when I did it with Jake a few weeks back..."

“This is much more fun than when I did it with Jake a few weeks back…”

Whatever the reasons for these decisions – on the part of the writers, the studio, or the audience – it was clear that Bajoran politics would no longer be a driving force for the show going forward. In fact, the Bajoran politics of Crossfire offer a hint of the shape of things to come; lip service to the idea that Bajor might want to join the Federation, but with little direct engagement to what that would actually mean for either party. In Crossfire, it is suggested that Bajor’s membership of the Federation is now just a matter of bureaucracy and scheduling.

This is not to suggest that the show was entirely done with Bajor. The Bajoran religion would remain a vital part of the show’s second half, albeit with a dramatic shift in emphasis away from the new age spirituality that defined its earlier portrayals and a reworking of the core concepts to more closely resemble Christian archetypes. (This shift truly begins with The Assignment.) Nevertheless, Deep Space Nine was largely done with Bajor in a political sense. This explains why Shakaar become such a loose end; he arrived just in time to be rendered redundant.

"It's not that we don't like you, Shakaar... It's just that Winn tells better jokes."

“It’s not that we don’t like you, Shakaar… It’s just that Winn tells better jokes.”

Crossfire is an interesting episode, one that stands very well on its own merits. Indeed, it would serve quite well as a culmination (and conclusion) to Odo’s unrequited love for Kira, a subversive twist on an old romantic cliché. Unfortunately, the episode suffers a little bit in the larger context, ultimately (and retroactively) reduced to a minor obstacle in a one of the show’s more awkward long-form arcs.

11 Responses

  1. I’m really not sure what it is about Kira, but whenever she gets a boyfriend, the boyfriend becomes less interesting. It happened with Shakar and it also happened with Bariel. The only exception is Odo.
    I think the most memorable part of the episode besides the Quark-Odo chat was the excellent idea by Rene Auberjoinois to have a start of his hair lose, thus conveying emotional turmoil.

    • Yep. I remember finding Bareil kinda interesting in In the Hands of the Prophets, in a sort of a “street priest” kinda way. He becomes a lot more generic after that.

  2. Although I would have been fine with Odo’s love for Kira remaining unrequited, when we finally got to “Chimera” and “Tacking Into the Wind,” I had to admit it was all worth it (also, occasional dialogue like Kira describing dinner with Odo in “Afterimage” or Odo’s: “Well, I was hoping our relationship was going to be a long and happy one, but I suppose I’m willing to settle for short and exciting.”).

    To me, the biggest missed opportunities with Shakaar were the episodes involving the resistance; they brought back Furel for the flashbacks in “Ties of Blood and Water,” but not Shakaar. And in “The Darkness and the Light” when a serial killer has targeted members of the Shakaar cell, murdering their way through his friends (including Furel & Lupaza, both brought back from “Shakaar”) and ultimately threatening Shakaar’s pregnant girlfriend… there’s no on-screen appearance. Shakaar may have been as interesting as beige wallpaper (with less texture), but it became pretty clear to we viewers that the creators didn’t take him seriously.

    Also, while the Odo-Kira relationship developing off-screen is often-cited, what about the Kira-Shakaar relationship existing (and terminating itself) off-screen? Bashir and Leeta broke up on-screen. BASHIR AND LEETA. We barely even knew those two were a couple. The prosecution rests.

    • I was watching the Bar Association to review it, and I remember actually being confused for a moment about Bashir and Leeta. It took me a moment to realise that they were still a couple at that point in the show. I like the idea of relationships playing out in the background of a show, but the Bashir and Leeta combination just doesn’t have a pulse. (I’m not a huge fan of Rom and Leeta, but the two characters certainly play better off one another.)

      Speaking of Odo and Kira, I do like that Odo is perfectly willing to support Kira without any hint of ego. Once they’re together, it’s a very nice low-key relationship. I remember, for some bizarre reason given it wasn’t the focus point of the episode, really liking their companionship in Signs and Symbols, with Odo playing the role of supportive partner that is traditionally given to television wives. As a couple, Odo and Kira are much more interesting to me than Worf and Dax, for example. It’s only really in how the show gets Odo and Kira together that I have an issue with.

      • Was Bashir going out with Leeta while running his secret agent program in the Holosuite? And you can imagine what he was up to in there.

      • That hadn’t occurred to me.

        Then again, I try not to think about those implications of the holosuites. Thank you, Meridian.

  3. The “Bajoran politics” ought to have been the most interesting part of the show.

    I think they should have cast more minority actors as Bajorans. If you look at the screen credits for some of these actors, it’s mostly Broadway musicals and daytime soap operas. There is a disconnect between what these people have endured and how they are presented. They would fit it perfectly in Fair Haven (VOY’s Gaelic paradise), but this is supposed to be a ruinous world teetering on the edge of anarchy.

    It’s also a little strange that we only see a black Bajoran when Jake Sisko is feeling randy.

    Give me ten Ferengi episodes over any Bajor episodes. That’s how bland it is.

    • I actually quite liked a lot of the season one/two Bajoran episodes, particularly In the Hands of the Prophets and The Collaborator. I feel the latter is underrated. But I think you’re right about the show struggling to find the right voice for them. Certainly, I’m not a huge fan of the direction that the Bajoran episodes take from the fifth season onwards. (Although there are fewer of them.)

  4. I have to admit I tend to see ‘nice guyism’ less as a result of defined gender character roles and more as a result that the ‘default’ viewpoint character is male in television in movies (and arguably to an even greater extent in sci-fi and other ‘geek’ culture) – certainly I’ve seen this trope gender flipped often enough in female focused stories.

    In fact I’ve even seen it happen both ways in the same time; early Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Xander pine over Buffy… while Willow was pining over him, which anything was treated even more sympathetically than Xander’s crush on Buffy.

    • That is a very valid point, actually. I think you’re right about the default assumptions for viewpoint characters, although I do think that plays into larger gender issues in its own way.

  5. The production team weren’t too thrilled with Shakaar’s turnaround here from former terrorist leader to Kira’s sensitive boyfriend. They transplanted Kira from one boring relationship to another, even with the best of intentions. Tuvok smashes up his quarters in Meld and now Odo does the same in Crossfire, but for different reasons, and they’re both security chiefs. A frenemy in the shape of Quark comes to give Odo sage advice. If it were Voyager, it might have been Neelix. Did Odo turn into a wild beest or wildebeest?

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