Series: Star Trek: DS9
Episode: 1.20 In the Hands of the Prophets (Season 1 Finale; June 21, 1993)
Redshirt Status: 1/3.5
Content/Trigger Warning: Religious violence.
Notable Guest Stars:
Louise Fletcher ( Vedek Winn Adami) – Louise Fletcher plays the rule of Winn for several seasons on this show, and is one of the most rememberable side characters on the show. She is also known for playing the role of Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (A movie I dislike, but she did an awesome job) for which she won an award for Best Actress in 1975. Her last role was on the Netflix series Girlboss (which means I need to watch it now). She died late last year at 88 years old.
Philip Anglim (Vedek Bareil Antos) – Anglim is known more for his theater work then his work in television, but he will be a reoccuring actor on this series, playing Bareil. He is also known (television wise) for playing the son of Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward in The Thorn Birds
Robin Christopher (Neela) – This is Christopher’s second (and last episode) as Neela.
Rosalind Chao (Keiko O’Brien) – While I usually don’t mention reoccurring characters much, I feel I should bring up Rosalind again. She does such an excellent job in this episode. Some other roles she is known for include Soon-Lee Klinger in M*A*S*H. She is Rose Hsu Jordan in the Joy Luck Club which I have yet to see but seems to be quite popular. More recently she appeared in the 2020 Mulan as Hua Li
In the Hands of the Prophet is a bit too relatable. It could have been a ripped from the headlines episode. A small (but Vocal) group of radical religious people have decided to commit violence to either get rid of the opposition or to remove what they see as “Unholy”.Read more: The Rewatch 229: In the Hands of the Prophets
As we know, the Bajoran religion is very much a part of their social and political structure. They have a provisional government but a great amount of power lies in the hand of the Kai, the head of their church. Kai Opaka “died” a few episodes ago, so Bajor is left without a leader, and so the next tier of their religion -the Vedeks – are vying for the position.
One of these Vedeks is Vedek Winn, a woman who belongs to a more conservative and strict order then others. Her main competition is Vedek Boreil, who has been found to be much more charismatic and frankly kinder then she is. So she concocts a plan to get Boreil out of the way.
Onboard DS9 is a school. Keiko O’Brien has become a school teacher and for the most part is loved by her students and their parents. However Winn is not quite a fan. You see, Winn wants schooling that fits the religion of the Bajorans, rather then the science-based and “Leave the religion to the parents” type schooling. She starts convincing Bajoran parents to take their children out of the school if Keiko doesn’t start teaching Bajoran beliefs.
Remind you of current events?
It causes problems in the station as Bajorans are starting to believe, as is Winn’s intent, that the Federation doesn’t respect anyone’s beliefs. This is made worse by the fact that a member of O’Brien’s team has been killed and it seems it might be related to the issues. Then the school is bombed. Thankfully no one is at school as Keiko had dismissed them early that day.
Needless to say everyone is quite concerned. Winn pretends to offer sympathy then claims perhaps it was a result of their blasphemy against the prophets.
Vedek Bareil then comes to visit the station, deciding that staying neutral is no longer an option. He manages to gather the Bajorans and with kind words and good leadership, he tries to heal the wounds from what has happened.
But then Neela shoots at him. And this causes havoc. Everyone is convinced that she was working for Winn, which we know from earlier scenes, but those in the universe didn’t see that conversation. Winn gets to go free despite planning the assassination of her coworker, the bombing of a school and basically causing havoc wherever she goes.
Given our current events this episode was harder to watch because I could see the similarities to reading on the news people restricting books, and changing laws to better fit their religious views vs. the neutral space school was. In Florida, the governor has made it basically so if the school doesn’t fit his agenda he can revoke their ability to be a school.
But back to Star Trek based analysis. This is a good Kira episode. Kira has a lot to think about after this episode. She’s not as conservative as Winn by any means but she has a high respect for her as a member of her clergy. After the events of this episode she is forced to reexamine her beliefs and how much power she puts in those who lead her religion in how she believes.
Its also a good Keiko episode. The nice thing about DS9 is that both Keiko and Miles are fleshed out, having been only minor reoccurring characters on TNG.
- Written by Robert Hewitt Wolf
- Directed David Livingston
- Some of the outdoor scenes were filmed at Fern Dell, which had also been a location for TNG’s Encounter at Farpoint
- Originally the plan was for Anara, a character in the episode The Foresaken to be the assasin, but that fell threw, causing them to create Neela. Some elements of the original plan remain in the script.
- Winn is an iconic character for the series, so its good to see her arrive, though in general I would dislike her in real life.
- This is an excellent episode for Kira Nerys.
- This episode explores more of the Bajoran culture, in particular their religion.
- Too similar to current events where people are attempting to control schools to promote their religious or intolerant agenda.