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Star Trek DS9 - Season 4 - Episode 17

Star Trek DS9 - 4x17 - Accession

Originally Aired: 1996-2-26

Synopsis:
A legendary Bajoran appears mysteriously after more than 200 years and challenges Sisko's claim to be the Emissary. [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 5.28

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 16 5 3 3 1 18 13 12 11 11 6

Filler Quotient: 0, not filler, do not skip this episode.
- This episode mostly features a collection of minor, but necessary continuity, such as Keiko's second pregnancy.

Problems
- This episode contributes heavily to the "inconsistent wormhole aliens behavior" problem. I won't go into detail, but essentially, the Prophets seem to contradict their original behavior quite a bit from this point forward.

Factoids
None

Remarkable Scenes
- O'Brien and Bashir cleaning O'Brien's bachelor pad.
- Akorem Laan's introduction.
- Sisko: "I'm just a Starfleet officer again. All I have to worry about are the Klingons, the Dominion, and the Maquis. I feel like I'm on vacation!"
- Quark to Worf: "Did you hear? Keiko's going to have another baby!" Worf: "Now?!" Seems Worf had not so fond memories of delivering Keiko's first baby in TNG: Disaster. ;)
- Keiko playing O'Brien and Bashir back to together.
- Morn Appearances; 1. Playing darts with Bashir.

My Review
This is a complicated episode, which creates a shakeup in the very premise of the show. It seems Sisko is no longer the Emissary; that the real one has appeared from the wormhole. Sisko revels in these events at first, because he hated being the Emissary. But when the new Emissary begins advocating ridiculous new social changes that would ruin Bajor's chances of joining the Federation, Sisko realizes maybe he should be the Emissary after all. To me, more interesting was the whole subplot regarding Keiko, O'Brien, and Bashir. I don't know why, but it had a certain charm to it. I liked the ending where Keiko goes behind O'Brien and Bashir's back both to get them back together. Very cute.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From JRPoole on 2009-05-05 at 10:30pm:
    Two problems here:

    1) Doesn't sending Akorem back to live out his life change the time line in a very serious fashion? The cute little tie up of that question at the end is ridiculous.

    2) Okay, how gullible are the Bajoran people?
  • From John on 2011-01-12 at 2:27pm:
    This episode proves once again that the Bajoran people are the most naive pushovers in the Alpha Quadrant.

    One of the things I love about DS9 is that the "Prophets" themselves seem to have little or no interest in what actually goes on on Bajor. They are completely indifferent, in part because they themselves can't even conceive of linear time as we understand it. It's fun to laugh at the Bajorans as they read so much into everything the Prophets do, while at the same time you know the Prophets don't really care one way or another.
  • From MJ on 2011-02-07 at 7:45am:
    The wormhole aliens/Prophets are to DS9 what the Traveler was to TNG: an absurd, unnecessary story arc that reduces the show's credibility. As with the Traveler, the Prophets are used to explain away inconsistencies, do things that make no sense, and kill the climax of otherwise good episodes (see DS9: Sacrifice of Angels). The difference is, we have a lot more Prophet episodes than we do Traveler episodes.

    This religion of the Prophets makes the Bajorans look like despicable fools. This is especially true of Kira, who in these episodes is no longer the tough, independent fighter, but a sheep who blindly devotes herself to whatever the religious authorities of her planet dictate. So, the Kira character definitely loses credibility. Then, enter this 200+ year-old Bajoran poet who wants to turn Bajoran society upside down, likely throwing the entire planet into chaos and ruin, and everyone just goes along with it because you don't question the Emissary? It doesn't really reflect well on Bajor overall.

    I console myself with this episode somewhat by hoping the point is to show how blind obedience to organized religion can be bad. There are hints this might be the case, such as Odo's excellent questioning of Kira (my favorite moment in the episode) on the Promenade before the new Emissary's first speech, and how the Prophets clearly have no concept of time, rendering the prophecy of who contacts them "first" a moot point. But, I realize it's not Star Trek's place to really take positions; the show simply offers competing points of view to educate the audience, which, of course, is fantastic. But the Prophet storyline takes away from Kira and Bajor in the process.

    I do like how the episode reflects both Sisko's being uncomfortable with the position of Emissary while also wearing the uniform, and his true concern for Bajor when the new Emissary starts enacting his agenda. Sisko has come to love this world and its people, however superstitious they may be, and is willing to serve in this role if it's in Bajor's best interests.

    We also have an episode that ends rather suddenly (again).

    I also wasn't a huge fan of the subplot. Normally I enjoy the camaraderie between O'Brien and Bashir, but this subplot was rather dull and pointless. It went from O'Brien wanting to spend more time with Keiko to missing Bashir. Not interesting.

    Below average episode at best.
  • From Bernard on 2011-02-07 at 6:01pm:
    I find myself in agreement with MJ over the Prophets but in total disagreement over Major Kira.

    I think that you are confusing your personal loss of respect for her character with her credibility. The character is still perfectly credible as we see time and time again on our planet the blindness of faith. Have you never had conversations with believers who can stand there and as perfectly rational people then suddenly say that they believe that a man fed 5000 from a couple of loaves? The Kira character is consistant in this respect all the way through the series, so I think it is perfectly credible that she behaves in this manner. Just because I personally can't understand why people can have blind faith doesn't mean that a character is not credible if they do.

    This episode does not mark the end of the Prophets as a well thought out and written species though... just watch 'Rapture' and any episodes from that point onwards involving Prophets/Pah Wraiths or both to see not only the spoiling of a truly fascinating species but also the implication (and later more than just implication!) that they really do have a connection with the Bajorans!

    I enjoy this episode as it brings up interesting points and as MJ said is allows the viewer to make up their own mind. I would rate it slightly higher than 5 despite some of the problems.
  • From MJ on 2011-02-13 at 8:46am:
    Hi Bernard,

    You make a great point. I have, actually, known some very intelligent believers, and it has been strange to me how they reconcile their faith with some of their other views. Maybe not strange, but interesting. I can see what you mean about Kira still being who she is, and yet still steeped in the traditions of her people. We have had glimpses of how her religion was one of the things that may very well have sustained her during the Cardassian occupation.

    I guess it just catches me off guard when I see episodes in which Kira is fearless, answering to no one and taking on anybody who gets in her way, and yet here is willing to abandon her life simply because a spiritual leader told her to do so. The good thing, though, is that she doesn't do so unquestioningly. She voices her frustrations to that Vedek about her lack of artistic talent, which at least makes it somewhat believable.

    On another note, I really did enjoy the moment in this episode where Kira informs Sisko of her decision to resign, and advising him on a replacement.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-03-30 at 8:23pm:
    Original Star Trek was generally atheist: gods were just aliens in disguise. Deep Space 9 recognizes that for most people the universe is mysterious and mystical. The Bajoran religion seems to be a mixture of Hindoo and Moslem ideas.

    In this episode, it is the Hindoo caste system. The Cardassian occupation was an aberration and a traumatic experience. Naturally many Bajorans would be eager to return to the halcyon days of yore. Nowadays there is still a segment of Indian society that wants the ancient caste system legalized and enforced.

    As for the emissaries, all the major religions have several prophets from the gods. When Akorem assumed the mantle of emissary, many Bajorans could have easily thought of Sisko as a sort of John the Baptist preceding the actual emissary.
  • From Hugo on 2012-05-11 at 4:00pm:
    Well, I gave it an 8 - a solid, interesting and engaging episode, with any major flaws - as I see it!
  • From Lt. Fitz on 2012-06-27 at 1:20pm:
    Keiko has redeemed herself. I was really aggravated by her in the last episode with her in it. In this one she behaved the way I expected a woman returning home after a long absence would behave. :)
  • From John on 2013-04-30 at 9:06pm:
    I have to agree with Bernard that Kira is still a very credible character.

    Specifically, the idea that someone can be stubborn, willful and annoying, while at the same time being indecisive, ignorant, and easily swayed by religious doublespeak is perfectly credible.
  • From Mike on 2016-11-03 at 2:16am:
    I'd give this a 2, mainly because it's an episode that didn't really need to be made, or should've been much better.

    The whole point of this episode was to show Sisko finally embracing his role as Emissary. And I could buy the premise that the Prophets had Akorem do this brief stint in the future in order to get Sisko to accept his "path". But that's not how the episode is scripted. Instead, the whole thing seems like random action by the Prophets that inadvertently almost upends Bajor, the consequences of which are completely ignored by the end of the episode.

    Akorem lays out a pretty good case for his being the Emissary. But apparently, he's wrong. So why exactly did he emerge from the wormhole 200+ years into the future? The vague response from the Prophets indicates that he drifted into the wormhole, they saw that he was injured, healed him, and then released him. Since they're unaware of linear time, they just so happened to drop him into the timeline at this moment. When Akorem and Sisko speak with them, they seem to think something along the lines of, "oh yeah, that's right...Sisko explained this whole linear time thingy to us...ya know, maybe we could just send this Akorem guy back to his time." In other words, as John points out, they do things in capricious ways while the Bajorans foolishly read into everything as intentional. We never find out what the Bajorans thought of why Akorem briefly appeared in this time period. Instead, they seemingly just accept that it happened and go back to their lives.

    So Akorem goes back to his time, almost everything returns to what it was at the start of the episode except for Akorem's poetry, the changes to which are written off as mysterious Prophet ways, and Sisko now happily performs the ceremonies that he felt uncomfortable with at the start.

    It's an aggravating, unsatisfying end.

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