Past Prologue

Tahna and Kira

Rebels. Lovers. Possible distant cousins.

Episode: 3

Original air date: January 10, 1993

Notable guest stars: Jeffrey Nordling as Tahna Los, Andrew Robinson as Elim Garak (recurring), Gwynyth Walsh as B’Etor (crossover), Barbara March as Lursa (crossover), Vaughn Armstrong as Gul Danar, Mark Allen Shepherd as Morn (recurring)

In a nutshell: Kira’s boyfriend is back, which is kind of awkward because he’s still a terrorist. Lursa, B’Etor, and their cleavage show up on the station for some reason.

Say hello to: Two of the most important recurring characters on the show: MORN!!!! (okay, not that important, but lovable) and Elim Garak (will turn out to be most definitely important). Also Admiral Rollman, who’ll show up again in season 2.

Say goodbye to: Nobody.

Missing in action: Quark, Jake Sisko

Words of wisdom: “Ah, an open mind. The essence of intellect.” – Elim Garak

Hey-la, day-la, my boyfriend’s back!

Awkward convo part un

The real odd couple of this episode meets.

As Doctor Bashir eats his lunch (or possibly just does some midday drinking), a Cardassian introduces himself. Bashir recognizes him as Garak – a tailor by day and rumored spy by night. During their brief encounter, Bashir awkwardly lets it slip that he believes Garak was left behind to be the eyes and ears of Cardassia on DS9. Garak insists he’s just a humble tailor.

Bashir immediately runs up (down? sideways?) to Ops to tell Sisko all about his encounter with Garak, but he’s interrupted by actual news – a Cardassian vessel firing on a small Bajoran ship. Unable to sustain contact with the Bajoran vessel, Sisko beams its lone inhabitant on to station as the Cardassians destroy it. He immediately recognizes Kira, identifies himself as Tahna Los, and requests political asylum.

OPENING CREDITS

As Tahna heads to the infirmary, the Cardassians let Sisko know that he is a known criminal and terrorist – specifically a member of Kohn-Ma, the Bajoran equivalent of the IRA. (Google it, kids.)  Sisko tells the Cardassians that he’ll investigate their claims before deciding whether to give Tahna up to them or not.

Gratuitous nudity

Bashir attempts to find Tahna’s dreamy center.

Sisko and Kira head down (up? sideways?) to Bashir’s office to question Tahna. As Sisko questions the dashing interloper, Kira makes googly eyes and cooing noises at him, and soon it’s revealed that the two of them worked together in the resistance movement during the occupation. Furthermore, Tahna admits to doing many bad things to the Cardassians, even following the end of the occupation. He assures Sisko that he’s tired and ready to end his blow-uppy ways.

Concerned that Sisko isn’t going to give Tahna the benefit of the doubt, Kira pulls a Shelby and tries to go around him by appealing directly to his supervisor. It backfires though, because the admiral immediately calls Sisko and tells him he’d better learn to keep his hoes in line (or something to that effect). Meanwhile, Sisko decides to grant Tahna asylum during a meeting with the Cardassian commander, Gul Danar.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

In Tahna’s room, Kira and our handsome young scalawag get into a heated conversation about the future of Bajor. Tahna believes the only acceptable next step for Bajor is a total independence. Kira is willing to accept Federation involvement in the interim to protect the valuable wormhole while Bajor tries to get its act together. In the end, they agree to disagree and Kira pledges to help Tahna with this request for repatriation as long as he’s truly quitting the Kohn-Ma. He assures her that he is.

The Duras Sisters.

The Klingon Kleavage makes a crossover appearance on DS9.

Meanwhile, everyone’s favorite Klingon sisters – Lursa and B’Etor – show up on the station. Odo gets into an argument with them about surrendering their weapons, which he eventually wins. The security chief reports their arrival to Sisko and suggests they be locked up and extradited to the Klingons, but Sisko points out that they’ve done nothing wrong yet. Mirroring a conversation the writers must of had, Sisko and Odo wonder out loud why the sisters could be possibly be on DS9. Sisko mentions some reports that they’ve been trying to rebuild their assets after their failed attempt to take over the Klingon Empire, which seems to be what the writers have decided on as their motive as well.

Back at Quarks, Garak once again sidles up to the young doctor and not-so-subtly suggests that the Duras sisters might be worth keeping an eye on. The pair meets with Tahna in a cargo bay, where it’s revealed that they’re delivering something to the hunky terrorist in exchange for some cash. Or gold-pressed latinum, actually. Fortunately, Odo is there (disguised as a space rat) to hear the whole thing and then grimace disapprovingly once the conspirators leave.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Kira tells Sisko that she’s arranged for Tahna to get an amnesty hearing on Bajor and that two more Kohn-Ma agents are on their way to the station and willing to turn in their bombs as well. Sisko listens noncommittally, then warns Kira about the consequences if she ever goes around his back to Starfleet again. Odo then tells Sisko about Tahna’s clandestine rendezvous with the Duras sisters, and it’s the commander’s turn to grimace disapprovingly.

Awkward convo part deux

Sisko lays down the law.

Back at Quark’s (which is apparently where Bashir spends all his time), Garak talks to the young doctor once more. After several attempts, he’s able to successfully pound into Bashir’s incredibly dense brain that he should meet him at his shop at exactly 20:55 tonight. Having finally coming to the realization that this might be related to the whole spy business, Bashir runs to Sisko for advice. He advises Bashir to go to the shop at 20:55.

Kira tells Tahna the she’s rallied enough support to make his amnesty request a successful one, but our beefy perpetrator of doom rips her teenage heart by pulling off his mask (metaphorically) and revealing that he’s still very much an active member of the Kohn-Ma. He needs a warp-capable ship to carry out his current mission, the details of which he refuses to divulge to Kira.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

With her loyalties torn, Kira enters Odo’s office looking for advice. They blab on for a while before he convinces her the right move is to spill the beans about Tahna’s deception to Sisko.

Awkward convo part trois

Sensing that our doctor will never figure things out on his own, Garak just tells him what’s going on.

At exactly 20:57, Bashir arrives at Garak’s shop and is quickly shoved into a changing room. Moments later, the Duras sisters enter the shop and strike up a conversation with Garak. Having gotten their money from Tahna, they’re now ready to double up by selling him out to the Cardassians. Garak haggles back and forth with him about pricing, and in the process manages to learn that the ladies are giving a highly volatile substance to Tahna.

After the Lursa and B’Etor leave, Bashir emerges from the dressing room and Garak kindly connects all the dots for him: Tahna’s associates are bringing components that, when combined with the substances he’s getting from the Klingons, will make one really big ass bomb.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

Kira convinces Sisko that the only way to foil Tahna’s plot is to let it play out. He agrees to let her “give” Tahna one of runabouts while O’Brien and he take another one in hopes of watching the dirty deal go down. Sure enough, Lursa and B’Etor’s ship meets with Tahna’s runabout in the outer system and the deal is consummated. Immediately, Sisko flips on his siren (metaphorically) and chases after Tahna.

Kira tries to sell Tahna on the idea that the Duras sisters ratted him out, but he quickly realizes that Kira is the one that betrayed him. He slaps her, assembles his really big ass bomb, and sends the runabout into warp.  Sisko’s runabout and the Cardassians give chase, but Tahna has an insurmountable head start on them.

Fail.

Fail.

Tahna reveals that he’s not planning on destroying DS9, but rather the entrance of the wormhole. Once the wormhole is closed off, he reckons, Bajor will go back to being a crappy hick planet that no one cares about and both the Cardassians and the Federation will leave them alone. Kira steers the runabout directly into the wormhole and by the time Tahna is able to deploy his really big ass bomb, it ends up exploding harmlessly in the Gamma Quadrant.

Sisko and O’Brien emerge from the wormhole and give Tahna an ultimatum: either surrender to them now or Sisko will let the Cardassians deal with him. Tahna, apparently not willing to become a martyr for his cause, decides to surrender to the Federation authorities. He’s hauled back to DS9 and placed into custody. As he’s taken away, he accuses Kira of betraying Bajor.

Thoughts and ruminations

  • Bashir’s lack of tact during his conversation with Garak is astonishing. Plus he wants to slap a tracking device on someone based on speculation and hearsay. That boy’s gotta a lot of growing up to do.
  • Given the ready availability of replicators, it’s amazing tailors still exist. Maybe Garak sells most of his stuff on Etsy.
  • Andrew Robinson’s performance as Garak is one of the highlights of the entire series. The real strength of DS9 (and a product of its intricate story arcs) was an incredible collection of well-written and well-performed supporting characters. TNG had Barclay and Q, but nothing like Garak, Dukat or any of the other recurring faces we’ll see in the seasons to come.
  • Kira’s hair has changed from the pilot episode. Less “frumpy Agent Scully” and more “freaky 90’s college chick.”
  • Does one need to request political asylum if you’re in your own territory? I guess Tahna is technically a man without a country at this point, though.
  • Is DS9 “a Federation facility” or a Bajoran facility under Federation administration? It seems to change depending on the episode and the situation.
  • This episode is an interesting thematic sequel of sorts to TNG‘s third-season episode “The High Ground,” which explored the morality of terrorist operations during revolution. In this one, the issue is revisited as Bajoran society must decide how to treat the less savory elements of its revolutionary past. How do you repatriate those that handled the dirty work during the dark times?
  • They never explicitly say one way or the other, but you totally know that Tahna and Kira were knockin’ boots back in the day.
  • How does Sisko know Gul Danar’s name when they meet in his office? Danar never tells him his name during that meeting or during their communications previously.
  • Terrorists of the future are always so dreamy looking.
  • Lursa and B’Etor just kind of show up out of nowhere. And their appearance seems totally forced.
  • An interesting little web of uncertain loyalties is woven between Sisko, Kira, and Odo in this episode. It’s early enough in the series to where the writers can still play the lead characters off one another like this and it’s done effectively.
  • Garak’s use of jazz hands when he offers to haggle with the Duras sisters cracks me up.
  • The Bajoran information network uses the old Chicago font! I knew the Cardassians set their society back, but apparently they knocked it all the way back to Mac OS 7.
  • This episode does a great job of transforming Kira from a simple hothead into a conflicted woman with uncertainty about her place in the galaxy. It also establishes Kira and Odo, the only two left from the Occupation, as allied outsiders in this new era.
  • The changing rooms in Garak’s shop are very spacious. Or maybe Bashir just got the handicapped booth.
  • The Bajorans don’t have a better name for the eighth planet in their system than just “Bajor 8”?
  • This is the only episode where gold-pressed latinum’s value is expressed as function of weight instead of units of credits.
  • Interesting that Tahna would save his people by cutting off their connection to the Prophets. But I guess that’s what makes him a radical.

The verdict

Garak is by far one of my favorite characters on this series and in all of Trekdom. His introduction here and his deft harnessing of Bashir’s eager innocence makes up for an obvious “Hey, watch this show, we’ve got TNG all-star guests!” appearance from the Duras sisters.  The main story with Kira and her friend does a good job of exploring the shifting loyalties that are defining Bajoran society and life on the station. And it helps soften Kira’s character up a little while allowing her to begin to transition into a willing member of the station crew. Three 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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