Battle Lines

Kira and Opaka

“Whatchu talkin’ bout, Opaka?”

Episode: 13

Original air date: April 25, 1993

Notable guest stars: Camille Saviola as Kai Opaka (recurring), Paul Collins as Zlangco, Jonathan Banks as Golin Shel-la

In a nutshell: Bajor’s lady pope goes for a joyride with Sisko and crew, but ends up in the middle of a never-ending war. Kira comes to grips with her inner bitch.

Say hello to: Nobody

Say goodbye to: Kai Opaka (in the flesh at least, she reappears a few more times in visions) and the runabout Yangtzee Kiang

Missing in action: Quark and Jake Sisko

Words of wisdom: “When you cease to fear death, the rules of war change.” – Golin Shel-la

Groundhog Day is a good day to die

Opaka and Kira

At least we’ve still got the Bajorans beat in the pope hat department.

O’Brien and Dax are in Sisko’s office, telling him about some old Cardassian files they’ve discovered in the computer and decrypted. The files are of little importance, but they do contain a less than flattering assessment of Major Kira’s duties within the Resistance cells during the Occupation.

Bashir hails Sisko to let him know that he had better come to the docking ring. Bashir explains that as he was meeting a Bajoran vessel containing some medical samples, he discovered that Kai Opaka, religious leader of the Bajorans, was on board and ready for her previously promised tour of the station. This is a big deal because Opaka has never left the planet before.

As she tours the station, Opaka stops and views out the window at the location of the wormhole, even though it’s not visible. Sensing that she’d like to see it, Sisko arranges for quick trip through the wormhole in a runabout. Bashir invites himself along. As the party enters the vessel, Opaka removes a necklace and asks O’Brien to give it to his daughter for her. Then the runabout departs the station.


Sisko, Kira and Bashir take Opaka through the wormhole, emerging on the other side in the Gamma Quadrant. The Kai was amazed by the journey through the wormhole and isn’t in any hurry to get back. Even though Sisko tells her there’s not much to see at this point, he assures her that the wormhole’s worth to Bajor will become evident in a few years. Opaka is still hesitant to head back and makes some vague statement about prophecies taking a while to unravel themselves.

Opaka dies

“Oh, fuuuuuuuuudge…”

As they’re about to head back, Kira detects a signal coming from a nearby moon. It’s a just a stream of repeating data. Despite Sisko’s better judgement, Opaka talks him into going and investigating the source of the signal.

They discover that the signal is coming from a network of satellites orbiting the moon. Bashir also picks up life signs within a concentrated area on the moon’s surface, possibly humanoid. As they move closer to investigate, one of the satellites approaches and fires on the runabout, rendering it inoperable. Pulled in by the moon’s gravity, the ship crash lands on the surface.

The crew escapes from the smoking crash site, but Opaka is badly injured. Bashir is unable to revive her and she dies. As Kira mourns her loss, strangers appear from the shadows.


Back on DS9, Odo is badgering O’Brien and Dax for updates about the runabout, which is now over three hours past due to return to the station. They tell Odo that they’ve discovered the vessel’s warp trail and are on their way to investigate for themselves. In the meantime, Odo is left to fend the constant requests for updates from the Bajorian security officials.

Shel-la talks to Sisko

“Any tips for dealing with a receding hairline?”

Sisko, Kira and Bashir are taken to a cave where they meet Golin Shel-la, leader of a group called the Ennis. He reveals that the moon is a penal colony and they are unable to escape because of the network of satellites in the sky. He also says that they’re at war with another faction on the moon’s surface, the Nol-Ennis, and by being in their presence, Sisko and his people are in danger. Shel-la proposes helping the marooned crew in exchange for Bashir’s services as a physician.

As they agree to a tentative alliance, a band of Nol-Ennis launch a surprise attack. A heavy firefight ensues, which is only stopped by Kira grabbing a weapon and creating a small cave-in which knocks out most of the attackers. As the crew searches for survivors, a shadowy figure walks into the cavern. It’s Kai Opaka.


Bashir scans Opaka, who appears to be in perfect health but doesn’t remember what happened to her after the runabout’s crash. His scan finds some sort of biomechanical presence in her cells which appears to be keeping her alive. Soon, all of the combatants killed during the ambush also rise from the dead, apparently no worse for the experience.

Kira, Opaka, and Bashir

“Let’s see your pope rise from the dead, Sisko!”

Shel-la tells Sisko that they cannot die – it’s part of their punishment to be locked in eternal combat with no hope of escape through death. He explains that his people and the Nol-Ennis have been at war with one another since time immemorial and their leaders sentenced the two groups to their fates as an example after peace negotiations failed.

Bashir wants to return to the runabout to see if he can get the computers working well enough to complete an analysis of whatever is keeping the injured alive. Shel-la agrees to provide him with cover, as he’s interested in learning more about the process himself. Meanwhile, Kira berates Shel-la for his lack of military preparation, but Shel-la points out that such diligence is a waste of them: they’ll die and survive and die and survive endlessly regardless of what they do.

Sisko assures Shel-la that Starfleet will find them and rescue them eventually, even it if takes weeks to do so. He then offers to take the Ennis – and the Nol-Ennis – with him, if they can agree to stop fighting long enough to make their escape. Shel-la is doubtful that his counterpart will agree to a cease fire, but he promises to set up a meeting with him.


Dax and O’Brien arrive in the Gamma Quadrant to search for Sisko’s ship. As they enter the star system they believe it to be in, O’Brien laments that finding them will be like finding a needle in a haystack. That statement gives him an idea, and he sets about creating a highly powerful magnet to detect the metal in the runabout’s hull.

The truce meeting

Cease fire negotiations or totally bitchin’ heavy metal club?

Shel-la reports that the leader of the Nol-Ennis, Zlangco, has agreed to the meeting and they’ll meet immediately near the runabout. Kira stays in the cavern with Kai Opaka. They have a conversation in which Opaka encourages Kira to acknowledge the violence within her and forgive herself for it.

As the parties assemble for the meeting, Bashir tells Sisko that the computer’s analysis will be ready in a few minutes. Sisko tells Zlangco about his promise to transport everyone off the surface, but the Nol-Ennis leader suspects it is a just a trap to bring his people out into the open for an Ennis attack. The meeting quickly devolves into another fight.

As a Nol-Ennis soldier hurtles a hatchet at Sisko’s head, Bashir jumps in knocks the commander down, saving him. He quickly explains that they cannot afford to die on the moon, not even once.


Bashir tells Sisko that the biomechanical devices keeping the injured alive make their hosts totally dependent on them for survival. Worse, they have been engineered to work on the moon. If they beam anyone off the planet who has the microbes, they’ll die immediately. Sisko realizes that means that Kai Opaka can never leave as well.

The crew leaves Opaka behind.

“Well, smell ya later, Opaka.”

Dax and O’Brien arrive at the moon and discover the network of satellites is blocking transmissions from the surface. O’Brien quickly surmises that they were responsible for the other runabout’s destruction and manages to avoid a similar fate. They also successfully break through the jamming to reach Sisko via communicator. O’Brien promises to find a way to beam them out of there soon.

They return to the cavern to break the news to Opaka, but she has already decided to stay and find a way to broker peace between the warring factions. She explain that prophecies have guided her to this place and that it’s the will of the Prophets for her to remain behind. She must being the healing for the Ennis and Nol-Ennis, just as Kira has begun her own healing process.

O’Brien tells Sisko that they’re almost ready to make their transport attempt. Bashir wonders if it’s ethical to leave the Ennis and Nol-Ennis behind without a way to end their suffering. He proposes finding a way to reprogram the microbes and allowing the prisoners to finally die. Shel-la agrees enthusiastically, but he doesn’t see it as humane way of ending their suffering; he sees the potential “cure” as a weapon to allow him to finally defeat the Nol-Ennis once and for all.

Seeing that they can’t save the Ennis and Nol-Ennis from themselves, the party beams up to the runabout, leaving Kai Opaka behind as the factions go back into battle.

Thoughts and ruminations

  • The Chicago font makes another appearance, right off the bat.
  • You’d think that scouring the computer for any juicy tidbits the Cardassians might have left behind would have been the first thing they did when taking over the station. But apparently not.
  • Why does Opaka give O’Brien the necklace? They made such a big deal about it and then…nothing.
  • Opaka waits her whole damn life to take a trip off Bajor, then dies on her very first trip. Alanis Morissette would find that ironic.
  • I wouldn’t think killing the spiritual leader of the planet he’s supposed to smooth over relations with during a joyride would be great for Sisko’s career.
  • What’s the chain of command on the station? It’s never really been spelled out. When Sisko and Kira both leave the station, who’s in charge? And when Dax and O’Brien take off after them, who’s in charge then?
  • These Ennis are just a few feathers short of being Road Warriors.
  • Kai Opaka has a creepy stare, even when she’s not among the walking dead.
  • Once you realize these people can’t die, it really kind of lowers the stakes of this entire episode. Basically, they’ve got all of eternity to decide to work together. They may go on killing each other for a while, but eventually they’ll get around to the solution.
  • Fortunately, the Kai is familiar with Starfleet’s policy of always having one member of the landing party who’s willing to stick around and dedicate their life to helping the backward aliens.

The verdict

While watching this episode, I couldn’t help but get the feeling that I had seen this story play itself out before on TOS and TNG. Some of the details were different, but the general plot was the same: aliens locked in a never-ending battle blah blah blah. The scene with Opaka and Kira in the cave is decent and hopefully will allow her to mellow out in future episodes, but for the most part, this episode is just treading water. Two out of four Odo buckets.

The Odo Scale

The Modernish Father

Your guide to DS9 is a father of two, husband of one and inspiration for millions of sardonic bald guys. A Texas native who recently moved to San Francisco, he loves baseball, history, most science fiction and generally all things nerdy. Find out more on his blog.

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