Series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (DS9)
Episode: 1:13 Battle Lines (04/26/1993)
Redshirt Status: 1/2
Notable Guest Stars:
Jonathan Banks (Shel-la) – He is better known for his roles on Breaking Bad and Better call Saul, both of which earned him Emmy nominations. He was also in the 1995 film Flipper, which was one of my first films to see at an actual theater (other than the little mermaid).
Paul Collins (Zlangco) – He is best known as the original voice of John Darling from the 1953 film Peter Pan. He would later appear on JAG, West Wing, and Guiding Light.
Camille Saviola (Kai Opaka) – Saviola worked in a variety of mediums, including having a record contract to sing Disco. She appeared in the 1993 Adams Family film, Addams Family Values. She appeared in 2004 on ER, another show I like to binge watch, as one of the temporary Desk Clerks. Sadly, she died in 2021 of heart failure.
This is one of my favorite episodes of season one. I love Kai Opaka and I really wish they had her come back for scenes later on. Its also a very good episode for characterization for the three main characters: Kira, Sisko and Bashir.
In this episode, the Kai is driven to visit DS9 as she has been given prophecies that tell her it is important that she go. She convinces them to take her through the wormhole, and there she senses she was meant to stay and not return home. (we find this out later though). While exploring a star system they end up detected by a grid and have to crash land on a moon.
On the planet are two groups of people stuck in an eternal civil war. They were sent to this moon thousands of years ago, so far back some of them can’t remember not being there. Their planet sent them there because they refused to stop fighting. They are so creatively known as the Ennis, and the Nol-Ennis.
The interesting concept is that the people who sent these people to punish them did a incredibly good job at it. They are infected with nanos (or their version of nanos) which keep them from dying, so they continuously die again and again and can never end the torment of war. If they leave the planet they will die, as Bashir finds out, but they don’t have that option either. The planet is protected to prevent them leaving.
This episode does delve into the personalities of the characters. Kai Opaka and Kira Nerys are shown to be very devout to their religion. Opaka sees herself as someone who brings peace, someone the prophets have brought to the planet to help these people end their fighting and maybe finally have peace.
Kira on the other hand is having trouble getting out of survival fight mode. She wants the peace that comes with the wars being over, but she can’t quite comprehend what she has had to do to survive with dealing with peace. Kai Opaka attempts to help her come to terms with that dichotomy with what time she has.
Sisko is a commanding presence in this episode. He shows that he is peace first, but he won’t handle fools. So, I would put him, leadership style wise, somewhere between Kirk and Picard. All three want Peace. Kirk is more likely to do some “cowboy diplomacy”, Sisko only has so patience, and Picard will try to talk much longer but eventually will just leave. Sisko tries peace talks, but he knows when he’s talking to a brick wall.
Bashir is interesting in this episode. Its clear that the writers weren’t sure what to do with him this season. In some episodes he’s a bumbling fool who takes nothing seriously. Even at the start of this episode he appears to be seen as that by the crew around him. In the episode where he’s stuck in a game he’s shown as bright but socially oblivious and not good at danger.
Then we get to this episode, where he takes command and even though he is under threat doesn’t seem all that bothered, he has a patient to get to. He also shows he has side interests – he can repair a broken down shuttle’s computer to do complex medical analysis. This does prove better for the “Julian is advanced” plot arc of season 5/6. There as always been (as with Data) a bit of Autism around Julian’s character with how he is so socially awkward and doesn’t always pick up on cues. I think when we get to the big plot arc later in the series, I may do a character spotlight on this topic.
I think overall that this episode is best for Kira’s story. It shows her more religious side, a sliver of the trauma she received while growing up in the middle of a war, and just how important her religion is to her character. Its nice to see when most of Star Trek is agnostic if not outright atheist.
As a side note: When I read Game of Thrones fanfiction I often come across the tag “Ramsey is his own warning” (which, kinda yeah). I feel like this punishment planet is like a tag saying “You are your own warning” to these people stuck there. They are their own punishment.
- Written by Hilary J. Bader, Evan Carols Somers and Richard Danus. There are different listings on who wrote what so I’m just going to put them all as writers for this one.
- Directed by Paul Lynch (Last episode)
- This episode marked the end of Paul Lynch’s career on Star Trek. Apparently, Rick Berman disapproved of him letting the stunt coordinator running the action shots. He felt that the Director wasn’t doing his job, and thus never hired Lynch again.
- Yangtze is a river in China. Most of the roundabouts in DS9 are named after world rivers. Kiang appears to be an Asian animal similar to a donkey. I’m not sure why the combination of names but that is what the Yangtzee Kiang seems to be referring to.
- Gul Dukat is referred to in this episode, although not by name. He would become one of the long term villains to the story along with Vedek Winn, who is coming soon as well.
- This episode is the first time Bader & Danus worked on DS9.
- Religion seen in a positive therapeutic light
- Interesting idea – punishment planet where you are your own punishment
- Kai Opaka effectively leaves us. While she’s credited for two more episodes, I don’t remember if she’s in them as a full character or just a dream/flashback character. EDIT: Well, I have read several times in the background notes on this episode that this is indeed her last true appearance on the show – the other two are Orb images.
Screencap via CygnusX1.net