The CircleBy Michelle Erica Green
Posted at January 12, 2004 - 4:08 PM GMT
See Also: 'The Circle' Episode Guide
Kira learns from a stolen Bajoran earring given her by Quark that Li Nalas, a Bajoran war hero long believed to be dead, is alive and being held by the Cardassians. She mounts a rescue mission and brings him back to Deep Space Nine along with several prisoners of war still being held by the Cardassians. Li tries to run away from his celebrity status, admitting to Sisko that he was hardly a hero - he killed a Cardassian out of necessity and his legend grew out of control. Yet Sisko convinces him that his people need a hero, and Bajor's provisional government, led by the power-hungry Jaro, considers him a threat to their ascendancy. They offer Li Kira's present job as liaison with the Federation on Deep Space Nine, thus forcing Kira's dismissal. Though Li does not want the job, he accepts it under pressure.
At Vedek Bareil's invitation, Kira goes to Bajor to figure out what to do next. While at his monastery, Kira receives a visit from Sisko and has an orb vision: she sees Bareil becoming her lover, and Winn betraying them. Winn, meanwhile, is carrying on a secret romance with Jaro, who has Kira kidnapped and reveals his secret society, The Circle, which has plans to control Bajor and drive Starfleet from Deep Space Nine. Federation-Bajoran relations collapse when terrorists ravage the station, forcing the evacuation of most of the personnel aboard. Li Nalas insists on rescuing Kira personally; he sees her fight as his own.
While Kira and Dax to make contact with the provisional government in order to expose a Cardassian plot to recapture Bajor, Sisko and the Starfleet officers on the station fight the Bajoran military's forces, eventually retaking control, though Li Nalas is killed in the fighting while defending Sisko's life. When Jaro is revealed to be fronting another Cardassian occupation, Winn withdraws her personal and professional support for his conservative government, and new provisional leadership is established on Bajor with friendlier ties to the Federation.
It's difficult to evaluate these episodes separately, because the events are themes are so intertwined. "The Homecoming," which opened DS9's second season, was immediately engrossing when Quark showed Kira the mysterious earring. I didn't believe Sisko would loan Kira a Starfleet runabout on the basis of a rumor and her passionate request, but the rescue sequence was exciting and everything about Li Nalas shone - his aborted escape, the tale of his Arthurian ascension, his fighting to rescue Kira, his reluctant exhortations to the Bajorans, and histragic death. The comedy in the first two episodes kept them lively - I particularly enjoyed O'Brien pretending to be a pimp with Kira as his whore.
I'm not a huge Bareil fan, partly because he doesn't compare well with Li, but partly from his breaking up the fabulous departure scene in Kira's quarters - one of my favorite DS9 scenes ever, with the entire crew offering Kira wishes and advice in a manner both touching and hilarious. It was worth having Bareil with Kira in "The Circle" just for the bitch-fest with Winn, who suggested unsubtly that the two must be sleeping together before either was seriously considering a relationship. Winn and Jaro's tete-a-tete seemed more contrived - these two think enough alike not to flirt with such veneer.
"The Siege" moved slowly and much of it just tried to find things for the neglected major characters to do; Dax hadn't said much all season until the giant spiders showed up, Julian saved Kira but that's about all he did, Odo turned into a rat, Quark's plotting seemed stereotypical even for a Ferengi. But I like the unresolved ending, with no clue what was going to happen next on the station or Bajor. Season one of Deep Space Nine ended with the brilliant, moving "Duet" and "In the Hands of the Prophets," which this trilogy followed up on superbly; this looked to be the beginning of a season-long arc, which unfortunately it did not end up becoming. Still, those five episodes together are my favorite-ever DS9...quite possibly my favorite cluster of episodes in all of Trek.
Michelle Erica Green reviews 'Enterprise' episodes for the Trek Nation, for which she is also a news writer. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.