Monday, April 12, 2010

Deep Space Nine--"Shakaar"

“Shakaar” is something of a sequel to “Life Support,” the episode in which the dying Bareil negotiated peace with the Cardassians. Winn has taken much of the credit for the treaty and has used her new popularity to become the political leader of Bajor as well as the spiritual leader she already was. Kira is not happy about it. Not only is Winn unfit for either position of power because of her shady past, but Kira feels that Bareil’s memory is being sullied by not getting the posthumous credit he deserves.

Kira barely hides her true feelings when Winn recruits her to convince some members of her old resistance cell turned farmers to give up some farm equipment loaned to them by the government. Before the Cardassians left, they salted the farmland. The planting season is upon them, so the government needs the equipment in order to salvage large portions of the soil. Kira’s cell, lead by Shakaar, were promised the equipment for a year to themselves, so they are refusing to give it up.

Shakaar is willing to compromise if Winn will meet with him. She decides that would show too much weakness for a new leader to do, so she takes a more forceful approach--she sends troops in to arrest him. He fights back, joins up with his old cell with Kira joining I like old times.

When they manage to elude troops for two weeks, Shaar develops a folk hero following. In response, Winn declares martial law in certain provinces. She is finay forced to request Sisko send in Federation security in order to capture Shakaar with the threat she will withdraw Bajor’s petition to join the Federation if he refuses. Sisko refuses anyway.

As Bajor teeters on the edge of civil war, Shakaar and Kira realize that even though they have a platoon of soldiers in a certain ambush, they cannot fire on their own people. Fortunately, Shakaar has won over the respect of much of the military as well as the people for defending his rights. He decides to challenge Winn in called elections in order to remove her from political power.

There is a lot packed into Shakaar. So much, it is hard to swallow it all. Winn is certainly a terrible leader, but she has good itentions. The farm equipment will allow Bajor to produce enough crops it can begin exporting again,much less feeding its people. Whether Shakaar had been promised the equipment for a year or not, he ought to be willing to hand it over for the greater good. He cannot just ask the leader of the entire planet to meet with him and discuss a compromise. I cannot say Shakaar here is in the right even if I am an a Jeffersonian individualist.

Winn does blow it by overreacting, first by sending in the military, then by attempting extortion on Sisko. I can see why Shakaar might become a folk hero under the circumstances. Winn made herself into a classic villain. But I think it is incredibly convenient that shakaar suddenly decides he is willing to assume political power over Bajor and the whole population is willing to give it to him. What we essentially have here is mildly famous ex-freedom fighter in an eminent domain dispute with a popular leader who is trying to acquire property for the good of the entire planet. I understand people can be fickle with their support and like the underdog, but that is all terribly convenient.

I have a couple minor issues, too. After two weeks roughing it in the mountains, everyone I the cell has fantastic hair. The Bajoran soil may be ruined,but their hairspray is fantastic. Kira’s mussed hair after all that time amounts to a spit curl. Secondly, why do Bajoran military officers where bright red uniforms in the field while the enlisted wear a more camouflaging rown? I never paid much attention to Kira wearing red since she is usually nice and comfy and DS9. Out I the field, it just makes it easier to pick off the top brass.

Okay, those are nitpicking points. I do not want to pile on. The episode is decent overall. Perhaps a bit too ambitious. Within the span of a commercial break, we go from the cell escaping to martial law being declared because the people are ready to fight with Shakaar. After another commercial break, Shakaar is i line to be the ew leader. Chalk it up to passions running unusually high and enjoy the show.

I have to wonder if the episode would have been better off foregoing to B-story with O’Brien enjoying a winning streak at darts until he tears his rotator cuff. The time could have been better spent developing the main story. Things might not have felt so rushed.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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