The Storyteller

O'Brien and a big angry cloud

Just another day at the office

Episode: 14

Original air date: May 2, 1993

Notable guest stars: Lawrence Monoson as Hovath, Kay E. Kuter as The Sirah, Gina Philips as Varis Sul, Jim Jansen as Faren Kag, Aron Eisenberg as Nog (recurring), Jordan Lund as Woban

In a nutshell: O’Brien gets tapped to save a village with his loud Irish pipes, while Jake and Nog avert a possible civil war through the power of puppy love.

Say hello to: Nobody

Say goodbye to: Nobody

Missing in action: Nobody! The gang’s all here!

Words of wisdom: “I believe in people working together to find reasonable solutions to their problems. I hope you do as well.” – Benjamin Sisko

Go tell it on the mountain…

O'Brien tries to get out of the away mission.

“But I don’t wanna go…”

Sisko is getting ready to mediate a dispute between two rival factions on Bajor, the Paqu and the Navot, and prevent a civil war from breaking out. Kira warns him that it’ll be difficult to get them to sit together at the same table, much less reach any kind of agreement.

Meanwhile, O’Brien and Bashir are about to depart for the planet’s surface, where a village has asked for their help in dealing with some sort of medical emergency. O’Brien tries to weasel his way out of going on the mission because he finds the horny young doctor annoying, but Sisko ignores his request.

Kira and Sisko make their way to the docking ring to meet the Paqu delegation. The major says she doesn’t know much about the Paqu since they’re very insular and live in a remote region. When the door opens, a teenage girl steps forward and announces that she’s the Tetrarch of the Paqu.


As they make their way to Bajor in a runabout, Bashir asks O’Brien if he annoys him. Unwilling to admit that he does, O’Brien claims to have been preoccupied with his thoughts. Bashir asks O’Brien to call him Julian instead of “sir.”

Varis throws a drink in Quark's face.

You go, girl!

When the pair beam down to the planet, Bashir scans the area and finds nothing wrong with the air, water, and soil. They are greeted by a village leader, Faren Kag, who assures them that they are all in grave danger. He takes them into a home where an elderly man is lying in a bed. When Bashir asks how many others are sick, Faren tells them that the man is the only ill one, but their lives depend upon his survival.

On the station, Sisko and Kira sit down with Paqu leader Varis Sul and Novat leader Woban for their informal session in a holosuite. Both parties agree that the border between them is a river, as established by a treaty 90 years ago. During the occupation, however, the Cardassians diverted the river’s flow by 20 kilometers, creating a disputed territory that both sides now claim. When it becomes clear that Woban and Quark don’t respect her because of her youth, Varis throws a drink in Quark’s face and storms out of the meeting angrily. Nog sees her walking out the meeting and falls head over heels for her.

Meanwhile, Bashir completes his examination of the elderly man, who is known as the Sirah. He’s basically dying of old age and there’s nothing Bashir can do for him except ease his pain. The Sirah awakens and tries to get up, but Bashir tells him he’s no shape to do anything. The Sirah takes his hand and expresses disappointment in him. He then asks to see O’Brien, who he declares to have been sent by the Prophets. When Bashir tells Faren that there’s nothing he can do for the Sirah, the Bajoran tells him that they’re screwed – a monster called the Dal’Rok attacks their village five nights every year and the Sirah is the only one who can defeat it. They’ve still got two more attacks to withstand.

The Sirah

The Sirah tells the Dal’Rok how this is all going to go down.

Nog and Jake figure out where Varis is staying and sneak over to her quarters. As they argue over who is going to ring the bell, Varis opens the door and the two invite themselves inside. After saying their they’re the station’s unofficial welcoming committee, they invite her to witness the wormhole and she agrees.

Back on the planet, evening falls and the Sirah heads to meet the Dal’Rok despite Bashir’s medical reservations. The Dal’Rok, a vaguely menacing blobby cloud, appears in the sky amid a great wind storm, although O’Brien’s tricorder can’t pick up any of it. As the Sirah narrates a story of the Dal’Rok’s coming and the resistance of the villagers, a shield forms around the village which protects it from the Dal’Rok’s attack and a beam of energy radiates upward to push it away. Suddenly though, the Sirah collapses and the shield and beam fail, allowing the Dal’Rok to attack the village.


As the Dal’Rok’s attack continues, Sirah asks for Bashir to bring him his successor. A Bajoran man, Hovath, steps forward, but the Sirah demands the one the Prophets have chosen instead – O’Brien. With the Sirah’s help, O’Brien finishes telling the story and defeats the Dal’Rok. As he completes the story, the Sirah dies and Faren Kag proclaims O’Brien to be the new Sirah.

Bashir talks to O'Brien

“Uh, Chief, if you’re not going to need those ladies’ services…”

On DS9, Sisko calls Varis into his office and asks if there’s any point to their negotiations since she seems unwilling to talk and hell-bent on starting a war. She insists that she’d rather die than give up the land to the Novat, and Sisko asks if her people are as willing to die as she is.

Later, Jake and Nog stumble up on her as she sits at their usual hangout spot. She’s troubled by how the talks are going and asks them for advice without revealing who she really is or what’s going on. Jake and Nog suggest talking to her father, but she says her parents were killed by the Cardassians during the occupation. Nog suggests that it may be more of an opportunity than a problem, if she can think of something she would like in return for whatever’s being demanded of her. It becomes apparent that she’s infatuated with Jake and not Nog.

Back on Bajor, neither O’Brien nor Bashir can figure out exactly what the Dal’Rok was or how they’re going to stop, although Bashir is clearly amused by O’Brien’s predicament. A group of villagers appear to present their new Sirah with gifts, including a trio of willing females. O’Brien rejects the ladies and explains to Faren that he can’t stay to be their new Sirah and there’s obviously been some mistake. Faren doesn’t accept that, leaving O’Brien to wonder how they can destroy the Dal’Rok before it returns that evening.


After two days of fruitless negotiations, Varis is sitting in her quarters mulling the situation when Nog and Jake arrive. Nog tells her to trust her instincts, which seems to be useful advice to her. To celebrate, Nog hatches a plan to sneak into the security office and steal Odo’s regeneration bucket. Nog furthers the gag by filling the bucket with oatmeal and pretending to spill Odo all over Jake. As the three teens laugh, Odo walks in and discovers them. Nog tries to run away, but he’s apprehended by Sisko.

Jake gets oatmeal all over him.

Yep, that’ll happen sometimes.

As O’Brien attempts to figure out how the Sirah was able to control the Dal’Rok, villagers begin to appear, asking him for blessings. He slips away to the Sirah’s house to investigate further, but he’s followed by the Sirah spurned apprentice, Hovath.

Hovath enters the house under the guise of bringing more gifts, but he attacks O’Brien with a knife. Bashir enters and tries to stop Hovath, but O’Brien is the one who eventually ends up fending him off. When O’Brien asks Hovath for an explanation for his attack, he responds that O’Brien isn’t the true Sirah – he is.


Hovath tells them that he trained under the Sirah for nine years to be his successor, but when he tried to control the Dal’Rok three nights ago, he failed and several villagers were injured. He explains that a bracelet containing a fragment of a Bajoran orb is the key to Dal’Rok – it’s a physical manifestation of their fear and hatred that the Sirah brings to life so they can be united while repelling it each year. Now knowing the whole story, O’Brien gladly agrees to let Hovath take his place, but Faren enters the house and says Hovath cannot be allowed to endanger the villagers again.

O'Brien looks at the Dal'Rok

“I don’t get paid enough for this shit.”

Back on DS9, Sisko talks to Varis again in his office. She takes responsibility for what happened in Odo’s office and explains that they boys were just trying to impress a girl. She confides to Sisko about her difficulties in succeeding her father, a great man who was feared and respected by the Navot. Sisko tells her that her father’s strength was found in his willingness to seek compromise.

As O’Brien prepares to tell the story, Bashir asks Hovath why doesn’t fight back and take back the job which should be his. Hovath says that Faren is right and the villagers would never accept him as the new Sirah following his failure. O’Brien begins telling the story and the Dal’Rok appears, but it become quickly apparent that he has no idea what he is doing. Bashir suggests to Hovath that perhaps this was the Sirah’s plan – planting O’Brien as the new Sirah so he could fail, and Hovath could swoop in and save the village, thus regaining the villagers’ trust. Just then, the Dal’Rok strikes O’Brien and knock him down. Hovath jumps up to take his place and drives the Dal’Rok away. Faren proclaims him to be the new true Sirah. Bashir and O’Brien quietly exit and make their way back to DS9, where O’Brien swears he won’t be telling any more stories for a while.

Sisko and Varis prepare to enter the negotiating room once again, but this time she is prepared to offer a compromise – she’ll cede the disputed land to the Navot in exchange for trade rights on both banks of the river. As she enters, Jake and Nog are waiting to wish her luck. She gives Nog a kiss on the nose in thanks. After she enters the room, Odo grabs the boys by the scruffs of their necks and tells them they’re going to clean up the mess they made in his office.

Thoughts and ruminations

  • It’s funny to see how much Bashir annoys the hell out of O’Brien at this point, since they’ll go on to become best friends.
  • A teenage girl leader? Who do these people think they are, the Naboo?
  • It takes two hours to get to the station via runabout? How far away are they exactly? It didn’t take two hours to move the station away from the planet in the first episode, and presumably the runabout can move much faster.
  • Man, make sure you don’t commit a spoonerism with Faren Kag’s name.
  • The orange jumpsuit that Hovath wears is very reminiscent of X-wing pilot flight suits.
  • Do you think “ring the bell” would still be a commonly used phrase in the 24th century?
  • Jake’s jumpsuit is a little too form-fitting during both scenes in Varis’ quarters. He’s obviously happy to see her.
  • If the Crystalline Entity from TNG and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters had a baby, it would be the Dal’Rok.
  • When it comes to women, Nog is the new Geordi.
  • A smile from Odo, two weeks in a row!
  • Why don’t Bashir and O’Brien contact Sisko on DS9 for some guidance? He has some experience dealing the Bajoran prophecies. Or why hasn’t DS9 contacted them to check on the situation and get an ETA for their return? They’re on Bajor, not some remote planet in the boonies.
  • Why doesn’t Odo have someone on duty in the security office at all times? Even if he lives in a bucket in the corner, shouldn’t he have someone on duty to cover the station while he’s goolaxing?
  • Yes, I just coined the term “goolaxing.”
  • Ah, filling Odo’s bucket with oatmeal and then flinging it all over the office…kids are so dumb.
  • I like the use of the handheld camera as O’Brien inspects the house before Hovath attacks him. It adds to the uneasiness as it becomes apparent that something is about to happen.
  • Hovath establishes that the bracelet is the key to controlling the Dal’Rok. When Faren chases him off and puts the robe on O’Brien, Miles doesn’t get it back from him. Yet he somehow has it again when it’s time to confront the Dal’Rok.
  • “Where in the hell are those lights?” I enjoy O’Brien’s nervous fumbling as the storyteller.
  • Unfortunately, after spending some much time on developing it, the Varis-Jake-Nog-Sisko subplot all gets wrapped up rather quickly and neatly at the end.

The verdict

This episode is unique in that it has two equally strong plots going at the same time, and both seem to suffer because of the need to devote time to the other. I think it was clear that O’Brien and Bashir’s journey to the planet was meant to be the main focus, but the Varis story on the station had enough going for it to be it’s own fully developed standalone episode. I think both plots would have been better served if they had been the main storyline for their own unique episodes. 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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