[DS9] Lynch's Spoiler Review: "Destiny"

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Timothy W. Lynch

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Feb 19, 1995, 9:10:17 PM2/19/95
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WARNING: This article contains major spoiler information for
DS9's "Destiny". Anyone who wants to avoid exposure to previously
unknown plot details is advised to skip out and recite the "destiny"
poem from "Young Frankenstein" until the urge goes away.

In a nutshell: wait a minute, this was political and cultural intrigue. I
thought I'd seen the last of that; what a pleasant surprise!

======
Brief summary: When signs mount that a Federation/Cardassian
scientific mission will bring about an age-old Bajoran prophecy of
disaster, Sisko must juggle his role as a Starfleet officer with his role
as Emissary -- and Kira faces a spiritual crisis.
======

Now *this*, to be blunt, is generally the sort of thing I've grown to
like about DS9. It wasn't quite up there with the best of the series
("Duet", "Necessary Evil", "The Circle", etc.), but it took one of the
facets that the show had made a strength in the past and decided to
once again put it to good use. After all my muttering two weeks ago
about DS9 seemingly cutting its own throat, I have to admit that this
gives me renewed cause for hope. (Not that I'm letting my guard
down *just* yet; the fact that this show was written by people not on
the regular writing team was not lost on me.)

"Destiny", as my summary suggests, was really about two people:
Sisko and Kira. And, as much as Sisko tried to deny it in the course
of the episode, he is in many ways an icon, both within the context of
the show and without. To Bajor, he's the Emissary; but to us, he's
the Federation, just as much as Kira is Bajor. The gradual growth of
their relationship has mirrored Bajor's growth towards Federation
membership, and it's good to see an episode that once again reflects
that. (This isn't to say there aren't good shows outside of that
particular interpretation; there certainly are, and "Necessary Evil" is a
beaut. But it was in many ways an exception, and one I'm not sure
we're likely to see repeated.)

Given the proven existence of the Prophets, for that matter, I'm a little
surprised we hadn't already seen a show hinging on a particular
prophecy up to this point. This clearly wasn't the first time there'd
been a prophecy relating to the Emissary (as Sisko made clear in his
examinations of them), but this was apparently the first one so
absolutely crucial as to require Vedek Yarka's warning. I have to
admit that I'm frankly curious as to what some of the others *were*,
that "with the right interpretation" have already come true.

In any event, it stands very much to reason that eventually Sisko
would be called upon to play some sort of role as Emissary, and
equally as much to reason that Sisko wouldn't be comfortable with
that fact. While he wasn't as overtly uncomfortable about it as, say,
Picard probably would be (given "Who Watches the Watchers"), he's
never sought to be called by that name and likely never will be. The
scene between him and Kira where Kira attempts to come up with a
"Starfleet" way of interpreting the prophecy and letting Sisko make the
choice that Kira thinks is right was agony -- not because it was bad,
but because it was so damned *good* that you didn't want to see
either character proven right or wrong. That's not just good acting,
that's good writing to carry the characters into such a situation -- and
it's something I hope we see more of.

The character put through the most hell here, however, wasn't Sisko
-- I'd argue it was Kira. Here we have someone who's said many
times that her faith was one of the only things getting her through the
occupation, and who believes in the Prophets and the good they do for
Bajor's spirits [that meant in the sense of morale, not a literal one].
She's been working for one of her religion's single most important
figures for nearly three years, and as we rediscover here, she really
*believes* in his semi-mythical nature -- but she can't show it, and
has to work with him solely in a secular capacity to get anything
accomplished. That's got to be inconvenient in the best of
circumstances -- here, when all the signs were starting to unfold and
Kira became more and more convinced that Trecor's prophecy actually
was coming to pass, it had to be almost maddening. Sisko had a lot
riding on his shoulders, but he wanted nothing more than to shake
some of it; Kira, on the other hand, felt that she had *his* decision
riding on her shoulders, and wanted to be able to convince him of that
fact. That's crunch time for a character -- and I think both Sisko and
Kira were handled expertly here.

[Note that the show starts with Kira taking Sisko's side 100%, even
against Yarka -- and that we see her attitude change degree by degree
as the events unfold. Nicely done.]

As for the other sections of the show, I enjoyed seeing a renewed
Cardassian presence on the show, even if Dejar being revealed as a
member of the Obsidian Order had to be one of the biggest non-
surprises of recent history. In particular, I enjoyed seeing the
difference between Federation and Cardassian approaches in research
matters -- as was pointed out, the Federation is perhaps erring too
much on the side of safety, while the Cardassians play fast and loose
with risk. I'm not sure my particular reaction to it was intended, but I
tend to think that the ideal approach is probably somewhere in the
middle. [I do agree that the risk should have been made available to
the rest of the team, without question; but whether that should have
influenced their final decision is a more open question.] In any event,
I found both Gilora and Ulani perfectly reasonable characters given
the circumstances, and their decidedly non-Cardassian approaches to
life made the grim fervor of Yarka's warning all the more difficult to
deal with.

The side plot, of O'Brien and Gilora's interactions, came off
substantially less well, but was still pretty reasonable. Every time I
was prepared to write it off as totally cliched (the two not getting
along, then her doing a 180 and coming on to him, for instance), there
was something to at least justify what was happening. In the first
case, that of Gilora's sharpness, it was her own unique brand of
sexism, which I hadn't seen coming and which worked beautifully.
The second time, when her flirting was revealed to be a cultural
miscommunication, was at least plausible, but weakened things a bit
regardless. I understand that something a little lighter was needed in
between Sisko/Kira scenes, but it wasn't quite handled as well as I
might like.

On the whole, however, I thought "Destiny" was probably one of
DS9's strongest shows this season. We had a prophecy that hung
over the episode like a storm cloud, and which *did* come true
despite [or better yet _because of_] everyone's dancing around it, we
had Sisko and Kira reacting perfectly down to the very cores of their
characters, we had no real villain (discounting Dejar, which I'd like to
do; better yet, give her away for free! :-) ), and all in all we had just a
damn good story. I couldn't be much more relieved.

So, some smaller points:

-- There are, of course, a few nitpicks. :-) One is my complaint left
over from "Life Support": I don't think the peace treaty makes any
sense. However, if we take it as a given, this show was excellent in
context, so I'm willing to leave it at that. The other, though, is one of
timing: how could Yarka have been protesting the Vedek Assembly's
endorsement of the treaty two months ago when it was made public
knowledge far more recently? Whoops. Third, of course, is why the
comet had a tail, but I've lost hope of *any* show ever getting that
one right.

-- I could swear I remember us seeing communications through the
wormhole before at least once. I can't come up with a specific
moment when I put my mind to it, though, which suggests I might be
misremembering. Anyone with too much time on their hands know
for certain? :-)

-- Ulani's comment about being contacted by Guls she's never even
heard of reminded me of someone we haven't seen in a while: Gul
Dukat. What does he think of the new peace treaty? For that matter,
where's Garak? As much as Kira is Bajor, those two together are
more or less Cardassia -- and I'd like to see what they're up to.

-- Lastly, there's the "hey, isn't that?" category. I don't remember
where I've seen Erick Avari [Vedek Yarka] before, though I feel I
should. However, Gilora's mating attempt with O'Brien should have
jogged the memories of anyone who hadn't already pegged Tracy
Scoggins as "Lois & Clark"'s Cat Grant last season, and Wendy
Robie [Ulani] still sounded perky enough that we half expected her to
turn back into "Twin Peaks"'s Nadine and don a cheerleader's outfit.
:-)

That seems a suitably surreal note on which to end. So, wrapping up:

Writing: Solid -- very refreshingly so. Good, meaty stuff.
Directing: No complaints, and lots of compliments.
Acting: Good all in all; some of the O'Brien/Gilora stuff got a bit
much, but that's about it.

OVERALL: Call this one a 9. Very refreshing -- I hope it's a trend!

NEXT WEEK:

Zek's annual pilgrimage to DS9 -- but he seems a changed disgusting
little troll...

Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
tly...@alumni.caltech.edu
"Where you see the Sword of Stars, I see a comet; where you see
vipers, I see three scientists; and where you see the Emissary, I see
a Starfleet officer."
-- Sisko
--
Copyright 1995, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask...
This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net
compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the
author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.

just another theatre geek

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Feb 21, 1995, 6:36:22 PM2/21/95
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In article <3idldf$i...@nyx10.cs.du.edu>,
blanche cohen <bco...@nyx10.cs.du.edu> wrote:

>Tim Lynch writes:
>> the fact that this show was written by people not on
>>the regular writing team was not lost on me.)
>You noticed that also? *grin* Does PAF have a Writers' Guild alias?

Ooooohhh.....nasty....

>>To Bajor, he's the Emissary; but to us, he's
>>the Federation, just as much as Kira is Bajor. The gradual growth of
>>their relationship has mirrored Bajor's growth towards Federation
>>membership,

>Ahhhh...vindication and validation. Thanks to (Todd?) the original
>poster a few weeks ago that finally labelled (after 2 1/2 seasons) the
>Kira/Bajor allegory. It's not kosher until Tim blesses it! *giggle*

Of course not. Remember, Tim's the net.Oracle.....

Also, note that this episodes greatly expands Sisko's character
(and in a direction I, and a lot of other observers, completely missed).
Namely, Sisko is now struggling with the mantle of religious icon and
pre-destination, a mantle he's only now not entirely show he should,
could or would reject.....(and a struggle Paul Atreides underwent, as well).

>This is a rather unusual concept for most of US television, not merely
>Star Trek, altho quite common in literature. Didn't someone recently say
>that DS9 was the Thinking Person's Trek? How true.

Yup. So much for the brain dead bozos who think otherwise.

>>She's been working for one of her religion's single most important
>>figures for nearly three years, and as we rediscover here, she really
>>*believes* in his semi-mythical nature -- but she can't show it,

>Can we identify the point when she accepts his position as Emissary? Was it
>in the pilot or later? Or are we "filling in the blanks" because we want
>it to be true? A bit difficult to reconcile this with Kira's tirade and
>swearing at Sisko in "The Search".

Actually, there's a difference between intellectual acceptance
and emotional acceptance. This episode marks the emotional acceptance.

Another meaty plot point for the future is...just how DO you work
with and be friends with a Religious Icon???? Not a virtual icon, but an
honest-to-goodness, proven, prophesized figure of your religion? That
OUGHT to play havoc with Kira's judgement and objectivity (not to say,
her relationship with Sisko....).

I can see a growing awe and respect from Kira for Sisko (and an
equally growing uncomfortableness from Sisko).


--
Roger Tang, gwan...@u.washington.edu, Artistic Director PC Theatre

The most unAmerican thing you can say is "He/she makes too much money."

neil sarver (neil)

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Feb 23, 1995, 9:39:37 PM2/23/95
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just another theatre geek (gwan...@u.washington.edu) wrote:
: In article <3idldf$i...@nyx10.cs.du.edu>,

: blanche cohen <bco...@nyx10.cs.du.edu> wrote:
: >Tim Lynch writes:
: >> the fact that this show was written by people not on
: >>the regular writing team was not lost on me.)
: >You noticed that also? *grin* Does PAF have a Writers' Guild alias?

: Ooooohhh.....nasty....


Just for the record, I saw Lolita Fatjo (the script coordinator for DS9)
at a recent (JAN) Con and she said that PAF was writing for both DS9 and
VOY on a freelance basis.

: >>To Bajor, he's the Emissary; but to us, he's

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