“Li Nalas was the hero of the Bajoran Resistance. He performed extraordinary acts of courage for his people and died for their freedom. That’s how the history books on Bajor will be written, and that’s how I’ll remember him when anybody asks.”
— Commander Benjamin Sisko
Wow . . . spoiler alert. Yeah, Li Nalas does not survive the Bajoran Trilogy (as this three-parter is known), but that shouldn’t surprise any savvy TV watchers. It’s not like a cast as already sprawling as this one is going to add another regular when the other option is to just kill off a compelling guest star in a dramatically appropriate way. There really is no other way Li’s story could have ended. He occupies that most tragic of places for all former heroes: he has outlived his own legend. Had he remained on that Cardassian prison colony, he would have been preserved in amber as the Hero of the Resistance and would never had to deal with the unwelcome responsibilities that entailed. Once Kira rescued him — coincidentally right around the time Minister Jaro and the Circle were attempting their coup — there was no other fate for poor Li. He might as well have put on a red shirt and given a Horta a colonoscopy.
“The Siege,” the final episode in the Bajoran Trilogy, is an excellent hour of TV. The action moves at a good clip, there’s something for every character to do, and it really displays what the show is capable of. If “Duet” showcased DS9’s brain, “The Siege” is its fist — presently making little heavy metal devil horns. As the series matures, DS9 is going to offer some of the best action in any Trek ever, and with none of that distracting lens flare. “The Siege” pales in comparison to what we’ll see in the sixth and seventh seasons, but it’s still bracing stuff and manages to seed it with quick character moments for our heroic crew.
When we last left the station, Bajoran ships were on the way, ordering DS9 to evacuate all non-Bajoran personnel. Supposedly, the three runabouts (the Rio Grande, Ganges, and now the Orinoco, taking over for the lost Yangtzee Kiang) can hold nearly everyone. They seem a little small for that, but I just realized I have no real idea of how big a runabout really is in the scheme of things. I know they’re intended to be halfway between shuttles and starships, but which starships? And, don’t say “The Enterprise,” because there are like eight million of those and they’re all different. Quark immediately takes the opportunity to broker seats, but the scheme blows up in his face when Rom sells his seat to a Dabo girl. If the image of Rom flying off with a Dabo girl tickles you, well, you’re going to love the later seasons.
Anyway, Sisko, O’Brien, Bashir, Odo, Li Nalas, and a supremely reluctant Quark remain on the station to delay the occupying force, while Kira and Dax break off to deliver the evidence that the Cardassians are supplying the Circle. The people on the station settle into their roles with varying degrees of difficulty. O’Brien, in particular, seems like he’s come home, even spouting off a racist slur at Cardassians for old time’s sake. I mentioned in a past episode that O’Brien is a truly terrifying opponent, and he proves it here, positively glowing at the prospect of hiding in ducts and chowing down on combat rations while systematically sabotaging every inch of a station he just spent a year repairing. He’s like an Irish gremlin. Their enemies are General Krim, with whom Sisko had a brief meeting last episode, and his overconfident adjutant Colonel Day. (Steven Weber — and just as a brief aside, do yourself a favor and watch his episode of the fantastic series Party Down. It’s incredible.) While Krim knows that actively hunting the saboteurs down plays right into their hands (It’s exactly what the Bajorans just spent eighty years doing to the Cardassians.), Day is all about that. Day proves where his bread is buttered when Sisko and company capture him, clue him in about the evidence linking Cardassia to the Circle, and let him go. Day conveniently “forgets” to mention this to Krim, who is less than pleased when he finally finds out.
The best parts of the episode, though, are all Kira and Dax. Their plan is wonderfully insane: Li remembers that there might be some old, beat-up Bajoran raiders stashed on a nearby moon. These things look like they were built out of scrap metal and chewing gum — and probably were — and have been sitting there rotting for about ten years in caves infested by dog-sized spiders. While Kira instantly slips back into her Resistance badass mode, where she’ll look at a deathtrap, shrug, and be like, “Guess I’m flying this today,” Dax is on the verge of panic. It’s so much fun to see the usually serene Trill go nuts at the prospect of a ship without targeting systems, proximity sensors, firefighting equipment, legroom, components that don’t burst into flames . . . I could really go on. The ship seriously looks like a Bajoran engineer’s ironic joke.
To make matters worse, once free of the moon (no mean feat without proximity sensors), they’re instantly picked up by two Bajoran fighters. “There is one problem,” Kira says of their opponents, “the guys flying those ships used to be the guys flying these ships.” The banter between the two never lets up, and it’s like watching an action buddy cop movie set in the Star Trek universe. They’re a perfectly mismatched pair, too. In Kira, you have the earthy, religious, hot-tempered one who punches first and asks questions later. The tough veteran of a horrible war who knows how to get things done. In Dax, you have the cold, logical thinker with six lifetimes of experience and always the perfect skill or memory to carry them through. The immortal worm who believes in utopia and whose only fear are dog-sized spiders. DS9 was so good at pairing its characters up that nearly any twosome could have been turned into an incredible spinoff. Of course, I’m totally picturing both of them in boss ‘70s threads taking down a Ferengi drug cartel, and, thanks to my mastery of inception, now so are you.
Kira and Dax crash land after a thrilling battle in the skies over Bajor, and, with a timely assist from Bareil (I’m assuming he was tooling around in a windowless van looking for his next victim.), get the evidence to the Provisional Government. The fascinating part is once they arrive, Vedek Winn instantly backs their play, demanding to see the evidence. She is no dummy here and knows that throwing her support behind them might submarine her short-term plans but makes her look like a model of fairness in the long term. God, I hate her. This is the last we see of Minister Jaro, so I’m assuming that once the connection to the Cardassians was confirmed, his political career crashed and burned like an ersatz Bajoran raider.
Sisko and company capture Krim, and when he hears about the evidence, his entire mien changes. He does not evacuate the station, but, instead, behaves like a rational person: he instantly puts his personnel into a holding pattern. When the evidence is confirmed, he briefly expresses regret that his career is over, but then graciously acknowledges a good fight to his opponent. Day, however, is a true believer. He pulls a phaser to kill Sisko, and it’s Li Nalas, the man who never claimed to be a hero, who jumps in front of the beam. Li dies, and his last words are an inside joke to Sisko. It’s a noble end to a man who was never comfortable with his nobility, or even capable of understanding it. It was as though the lie had the effect of becoming the truth, as he saw how others saw him and worked toward that goal. In the end, he freed himself of the burden of his reputation, but, ironically, in so doing, insured that the lie would be what made it into the history books.
Next up: Grand theft symbiont.