Episode 2.2: The Circle

The second act of this three-part opener is organized around the reveal near the end that the Cardassians are orchestrating this entire coup. Throughout, there are hints and connections discovered by the crew that show this to be bigger than an internal conflict amongst the Bajorans.

The Cardassian involvement is political, deceptive, and focused on an endgame that is far enough away to be shrouded in mystery. They truly want the wormhole and have masterfully manipulated the Bajoran xenophobia to their own ends. The instability amongst the Bajoran people could be enough to drive out the Federation, and the Cardassians seize hold of that opportunity. Though this is entirely my own interpretation, I like to see this conflict as arising from the conflict from In the Hands of the Prophets (Ep. 1.20). The Cardassians saw the xenophobia that Winn was sowing and latched onto that. They expanded it, providing plenty of weapons and a leader in Jarro who had influence and charisma. While I think that Winn is genuinely surprised at Jarro’s offer of an alliance, the connection is perfect. She is comfortable with violence to increase her personal power. Winn also appears at a literary moment, just as gunfire is being heard in the capitol.

The Cardassians are a power that prefers to work through the actions of others; misdirection is at the heart of how they operate. I enjoy the way the Cardassians are developed. To them, political maneuverings are similar to chess. Pieces get moved into place that set up actions for later moves which set up actions for even later moves. For all their villainy, they seek to shape the future proactively. A very different kind of villain from the Klingons, who are entirely reactionary. Cardassians¬†have a very strong sense of racial and homeworld pride that sets them apart from the Romulans as well. While Romulans decieve for their own personal gain, individual Cardassians function, “For Cardassia!”

As always, I want to provide a little commentary on the characters’ development. Kira is still shocked at how much she wants to stay on the station and continuing building that better Bajor. The arrival of her friends is a hilarious scene; can’t we all relate to having unreasonably quirky friends? Odo is once again incredibly insightful into her personality; he’s also the first to show up. Her Orb encounter is poignant. If we are to be guided by another, we have to become useless before them, otherwise we fight and strain against that guidance. I don’t think this means passive and thoughtless, but rather deferential. The Orb predicts the coming alliance between Jarro and Winn. I see her nakedness in that encounter as foreshadowing her future with Bareil and not particularly relevant to the current conflict.

At the end of the episode, Sisko reacts very differently from Picard when given the command to abandon the station. Sisko stays on the station because he cares for the Bajoran people and sees the Cardassian involvement as destructive to them. So he concocts a rule-bending (but not breaking) reason and stays. Picard would have very quickly seen that the Prime Directive doesn’t apply: an outside power, the Cardassians, are involved. He likely would have seen it quickly enough to even mention it on the call with Chakotay. Picard would have stayed because the rule of law allowed him to.

Random Thoughts: 1) Jarro plays with the baseball in Sisko’s office. I’m only noticing this now, but it seems only villains do this. Nice touch. 2) Kira declares she has no artistic skill. This comes back in Accession (Ep. 4.17) with an amusing clay “bird.” 3) The Orb is the 3rd Orb, the Orb of Prophecy and Change. 4) Quark’s laugh at being deputized is glorious! Odo wins this contest to get Quark’s contacts, but begrudgingly gives something away to Quark for it. Later, he’s greedy as ever, demanding compensation for his services. I like to think he gets that. 5) I like Sisko’s move with the military. It gives him clout with them and sympathy for Sisko’s cause, namely support for the Provisional Government. 6) Li always reacts, always asking what to do. Not a leader. 7) Given the human racial differences, I doubt this Admiral Chakotay is related to Voyager’s Chakotay. This is the 24th century though, you never know.

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~ by Joshua Black on September 7, 2015.

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