#DS91sttime: Season 3, Episode 24, “Shakaar”

July 24, 2013 in #DS91sttime, General Topics

Kai Winn

Kai Winn

It’s that time again. It’s time for Kira to talk sense into another former Bajoran freedom fighter. We’ve run into so many of these guys over the course of this show–and it’s only Season Three–that I’m starting to wonder if any of Kira’s old resistance cell-mates actually died fighting the Cardassians. By my count, this is the third time Kira has had to bring such a man to his senses, and the second time she’s had to travel down to a farm to do so.

Ah, but this time, a plot other than “Kira gets flabbergasted” is afoot. Kai Winn is up to her usual mischief–and by that, I mean she just has to be. She’s such a great villain, and so single-minded, that her presence is almost a double-edged sword. What ultimately keeps her from being as effective a character as Dukat is the fact that the latter isn’t always drawn into a plot solely as an ambition-maddened manipulator. In essence, Winn’s sole problem is we never expect her to do anything other than what’s in her own best interests. She’s a great foil, and I give high marks to Louise Fletcher’s acting, but I hope the writers let her flex a little more into the sympathetic side of things in coming episodes. As it stands, we always see her coming a mile away, even if we do love to hate her visits.

The episode starts with Kira holding a mourning ritual to Vedek Bareil. This scene isn’t an accident, as we’ll see later.

We then find out that Winn has become the new First Minister of Bajor, following the unexpected death of the previous office holder. You’d think the Bajorans would have some sort of clause set up so that the current Kai never holds the office of Prime Minister as well, because that’s a lot of power to concentrate in a single person’s hands. Not that our new First Minister minds.

Kira is summoned by Winn, who asks her to visit Shakaar at his farm. Her former ally is part of a group of farmers that won’t return overdue soil reclamation equipment. This isn’t just a routine pickup, as one might guess–there are potential implications here for Bajoran admission into the Federation, for example.

Shakaar from S3, Episode 25.

Shakaar from S3, Episode 24.

Planetside, Kira meets the man in question, played by Duncan Regehr. In this show’s multiple auditions for “sympathetic Bajoran man-of-the-people”, Regehr is the first that’s really managed to knock the skin off the ball. His accomplices are appropriately scruffy and rough around the edges. Kira plays well with and against him, too, managing to have value in this episode that doesn’t come at the expense of shaking her haircut at people and yelling. (Yes, writers, Nana Visitor can do a good job, if you give her a script she can use).

This is a tale of Bajoran internal politics and power struggles written and acted the way they should have been in the past. There’s plenty of tension on tap, too, as Shakaar and Kira amp up the level of resistance they’re willing to provide against Winn’s increasingly-overt power grab. Sisko’s cool approach to his First Officer’s situation also finds him at his pragmatic best.

Even the outcome to the stand is nice–it provides some payback for Kira against one of the show’s best villains, but suggests there are plenty of potentially damaging loose ends to populate further episodes with. Winn is taken down a peg, but she’s not out, and one now has a new, interesting Bajoran leader in the form of Shakaar, who will hopefully face the challenges common to all activists and soldiers that choose to entrench themselves in the muddy waters of political life.

The writers did choose to wrap up one long-standing plot point, and it makes for a nice closing scene.

Bajoran-centered episodes are sometimes dry, plodding, and populated by one-shot characters. This one seemed to recognize and actively work against those common tendencies, and for that I found it a solid installment. And I didn’t count a single haircut-shake.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars.

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