Sep 18, 2020
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “Resurrection”
Please, people, I must beseech you, stop begging me for more Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe episode recaps! I’m only one writer, and I can’t possibly keep up with the overwhelming demand for Deep Space Nine Mirror Universe recaps!
I’m totally kidding, of course. Not a single person has been asking for more of these recaps. I think that’s because not a single person was actually asking for these episodes when they originally aired.
Well, except for one small, vocal group of fans, and only in the case of this particular episode. It sounds crazy, but there seems to have been a big letter writing campaign behind “Resurrection”, despite the Deep Space Nine writers and producers insisting that no letter writing campaign ever played a part in the making of this episode.
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But first, a bit of background. One of the many recurring characters in the first few seasons of DS9 (the seasons primarily focused on the Federation rebuilding Bajor in the aftermath of Cardassian occupation, AKA Deep Space Nine: The Boring Years) was Vedek Bareil, played by Philip Anglim. A “Vedek” is a religious leader in the Bajoran faith, and at one point, Bareil was a serious contender for the title of “Kai”, which is more or less the Bajoran pope, except a Kai actually has some power.
In one of Vedek Bareil’s early appearances, he helped Major Kira prevent a coup d’état within the Bajoran government. Later that season, a scandal (partly manufactured by his opponent Vedek Ratched) forced him to withdraw his name from contention to be the next Kai. Also, at some point, he and Kira started a romantic relationship, because apparently Bajoran religious leaders don’t have anything like a vow of chastity.
Aaaand… I’d love to tell you more about these episodes, I really would. But I fell asleep during every single one of them. Sorry, but to me, Vedek Bareil is walking Ambien. And I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way.
But finally, in season three, there came an episode where Bareil was fatally injured while negotiating a treaty with the Cardassians. Dr. Bashir kept him alive with a positronic brain implant (uh… I thought only Dr. Soong knew how to make one of those?) for the sole purpose of negotiating the treaty, which was so important to Bajor that it was basically never mentioned again. Bareil saw the talks through to the end, Bashir pulled the plug, Kira cried over his body, and that was the end of Vedek Bareil.
And yet, despite his onscreen death, it appears some faction of Deep Space Nine viewers (presumably, a mostly female faction… of a certain age) began a letter writing campaign to get Philip Anglim back on the show. It’s taken me some time to suss out all the details, given we’re talking about stuff that happened back in 1997 (which might as well be the Mesozoic as far as the internet is concerned), but before I get to that, here’s what the Deep Space Nine Companion says about what why they decided to kill off Bareil in the first place:
The writers weren’t particularly happy with the way the Bareil/Kira relationship was working out and weren’t certain where it should go. There was no sense in the production offices that Bareil was a huge favorite with the fans. Ironic, because after the episode aired, the producers received lots of mail from a fan organization they’d never previously heard of or from: The Friends of Vedek Bareil.
“We got letters,” confirms [producer] René Echevarria. “We got pictures of a bunch of people at a memorial service for Bareil. Very somber. Angry letters.”
Just let that sink in: There was a group of people who cared so much about one of DS9’s most generic side characters that they held a candlelight vigil in his honor. I wonder if these same people consider the Son’a to be the most menacing villains in Star Trek history.
Nevertheless, the production staff was mostly just creeped out and annoyed by the letter campaign, and all of this came out in a number of Q&A sessions with writer/producer Ronald D. Moore on something called “America On the Line” (for you millenials reading this, just pretend these are Reddit AMAs).
First came Moore’s casual dismissal of the movement in a chat on March 31, 1997, which he would soon live to regret.
Question: I ran into the “Friends of Vedik Bariel” fan club. I seem to remember an instance in the AOL Trek board (But I can’t remember where) that since Kai Opacka made an appearence as a “Prophet” in the wormhole could the same happen for Bariel or a possible flashback ep. dealing with the departed Vedik. [sic—for the whole paragraph]
Ronald D. Moore: I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Clearly, he was hoping that would be the end of it, but alas, he had to get even more forceful in another chat the following month:
Question: I am with your viewing audience and involved with the Vedek Bareil campaign and noticed your rather terse comment on the subject of seeing Bareil again in any form, the way you have done with other characters. Would you care to elaborate as to why this is so impossible when so many fans have made clear their desire to see this character again?
Moore: I’m afraid that the truth is that the writing staff simply isn’t interested in Vedek Bareil. He served his purpose for a while, and then we felt that the character and the relationship had run out of steam. While I respect your feelings to the contrary, we can’t really bring him back unless we, the writers, suddenly find a similar passion for the character and I don’t think that’s going to happen.
By the following May, things had clearly devolved, as a smackdown of Bareil supporters somehow made its way into a response to an unrelated question about Star Trek: Generations.
Question: Did you expect this backlash [over Kirk’s death] when you wrote the story.
Moore: [T]o be honest, the reaction from the fans has been remarkably even. While the Bring Back Kirkers are certainly vocal, they don’t by any stretch of the imagination have a clear and decisive majority among the fan reaction that we’ve gotten. Some liked it, some didn’t. You can dispute that if you wish, but the cold truth is that the people who want to see Vedek Bareil back on DS9 are not only louder, but more persistant, and more numerous. (And we’re not bringing him back either.)
You should let that sink in, as well: At one time, the people who wanted Vedek Bareil to come back were more vocal and annoying than the ones who wanted Captain Kirk to come back.
And yet, come November of that year, guess who was brought back? Vedek Bareil returned (albeit, the Mirror Universe version of the character) in “Resurrection”. And according to yet another chat with Moore the following month, the letter writing campaign had absolutely nothing to do with it. Do you hear me? Nothing at all, dammit!
Question: Did this group [“The Friends of Vedek Bareil”] have any type of impact (even remotely) on Bariel’s return? If so was it because of something they did or because the writers were aware that there was a group that wanted to see his return? And finally if it was something they did, what was it?
Moore: The emergence of Mirror Bareil came during the break session on “Resurrection” […] Ira [Behr] came up with this idea. To be honest, I nearly blew a gasket, having no real desire to see Bareil again, but even I had to admit that it made for a much better story. We were aware of the “Friends of…” group, but their influence, if any, was to keep Bareil that much farther away from the things we wanted to do.
So clearly, the letter writing campaign succeeded, despite all of the DS9 writers and producers insisting that those letters had no impact. There are really only three possibilities here: (a) they brought back Vedek Bareil just to shut the fans up, (b) they got the idea from the campaign and decided on their own that it would make for a good story, or (c) the letter writing campaign actually convinced them that a lot of people wanted to see Bareil come back.
If it’s (c), well, I think there’s a great cautionary tale here about what happens when you listen to the fans. Because the hardcore followers of any franchise, Star Trek or otherwise, who make the most noise are generally the ones most bogged down by their own personal hang-ups and obsessions, and therefore the least capable of knowing what would make for a good story. And here comes the prime example of this, “Resurrection”.
(And yes, I do realize the background information here is longer than the recap itself. As you’re about to see, the passive-aggressive bickering on AOL is far more interesting than the actual episode.)
The episode starts with Dax and Kira in the turbolift heading to Ops. Kira’s been invited over for dinner with newlyweds Worf and Dax (their wedding was in the previous episode), and she needs to bring a date. Dax suggests a few possibilities, including the infamous “Captain Boday”, who’s been an off-screen running gag since season one due to his “transparent skull”. Kira shoots down all of Dax’s suggestions, and having established the sad state of Kira’s love life, they head into Ops.
Just then, they detect someone trying to beam in, even though there are no ships in the vicinity. Kira steps up to the transporter pad just in time to see her dead boyfriend Vedek Bareil beam in. He points a weapon at her and tells her to “do exactly what I say”, and she can’t believe her eyes.
When we get back from opening credits, Bareil is holding Kira hostage and demanding a runabout. Sisko begrudgingly contacts security to have them clear a path, and Bareil makes his way out, basically dragging Kira along with him. As they head out, Sisko vows to make him pay if he hurts her. Well, at least as opposed to “Through the Looking Glass”, people are actually doing and saying things instead of silently standing there watching her being kidnapped.
Before they leave Ops, Bareil uses his free hand to grab what appears to be a… Danish? English muffin? cronut? … off someone’s console. It’s an odd moment, and it seems to only happen so that later on, he can talk about how the food here is so much better than in his own universe. They head for the turbolift, but he fears someone might try to cut the power and trap him inside, so they’ll have to climb a ladder to get to the landing pad instead.
Bareil notices Kira’s uniform and knows she’s not with the “Alliance”, which confirms to him that that he’s really made it to the “alternate universe”. He refuses to say why he’s doing this, but Kira recalls her brief adventure in the Mirror Universe and guesses he’s “on the run” from the Alliance. They get to a ladder and it turns out they’ll have to climb 57 levels to get to the landing pad.
They climb all the way up there, and then Kira refuses to cooperate. She knows his weapon doesn’t work (“the power cell’s cracked”), and you have to wonder why she didn’t say this 57 levels ago. She subdues Bareil at the landing pad, and of course, Odo and his men are already inside the airlock waiting for them. Odo notes how much he looks like Vedek Bareil for all the viewers who hadn’t seen him in three seasons.
Down in the brig, Kira’s holding up the magic wand interdimensional transporter-thingie from the previous Mirror Universe episodes. Bareil claims it was just a “gift” from a Terran rebel. He says he wants to meet the alternate version of himself, because he knows there’s “another Bareil Antos here.” Yes, it seems Vedek Bareil’s first name is “Antos”, and not “Vedek”, and somehow, this is the first time this factoid is being revealed.
Kira breaks the news that her version of Bareil is dead, and Mirror Bareil immediately intuits that it’s someone she was involved with. He then begs her to destroy the magic wand thingie so they can’t send him back to the Mirror Universe. I mean, the Danishes there are awful! Only a monster would send him back there!
Kira goes to Sisko’s office to tell him she’s “refusing to press charges” over the kidnapping incident. Which apparently means that Mirror Bareil is free to go. But generally, that’s not what “refusing to press charges” means. There were at least a dozen other witnesses to the kidnapping, including the entire senior staff of DS9, so I’m thinking Odo could still make those charges stick without Kira’s cooperation.
Regardless, it seems Kira’s already feeling bad for the guy and his plight. Sisko understands, because he felt the same way when he encountered the Mirror version of his dead wife. “Sometimes, she would smile at me a certain way, and a light would hit her eyes,” Sisko says, grinning slightly, almost as if he’s writing his own smutty fan-fiction about the event in his head right now, “And it was my Jennifer! At least, that’s what I wanted to believe.”
He warns Kira about getting involved with Mirror Bareil, but Kira is fully aware he’s not the same Bareil that she knew. Cut to Mirror Bareil, who apparently is now free to wander about the station at his leisure. He finds Kira and asks why all the Bajorans are staring at him, and she explains it’s because he looks exactly like a guy who was almost Kai. Bareil finds this ironic, because he’s the total opposite of a religious leader. He’s some sort of petty criminal, and his backstory is rather vague, but all you really need to know is that he likes to steal stuff.
And not only is he not the Bajoran pope, he’s never even been in a Bajoran temple. Kira heads to a religious service at that very moment, and invites him inside. He resists at first, but it seems he’s a sucker for the charms of the priest-guy at the temple door giving him a creepy “there’s room for one more” gesture.
During the ceremony, they bring out “the Orb of Prophecy and Change”, a powerful artifact sent down from the Bajoran prophets that can foresee the future. And then Bareil reveals he’s never even heard of the prophets. Except, he’s wearing that Bajoran earring that’s specifically supposed to be a symbol of the Bajoran faith. But whatever. This whole scene only brings back memories of all the episodes based around Bajoran religion and politics that made the first three seasons of this show such a chore to watch.
But indulging in this religion stuff earns Bareil an invite to be Kira’s date that night at Worf and Dax’s place. Over dinner, Bareil tells a tale about stealing a mek’leth from a Klingon warrior. If you don’t know what a “mek’leth” is, it’s basically a smaller version of a bat’leth. And if you don’t know what a “bat’leth” is, it’s something crazy people use to commit armed robberies.
Worf calls bullshit on Bareil’s story, insisting there’s no way he could have stolen a mek’leth from a Klingon warrior. Just then, Dax brings out dessert (which appears to be… Klingon flan?), and Bareil offers to slice it up, using the mek’leth he just stole from Worf! Well played, Mirror Bareil. Worf happily eats his words, and then happily eats some flan, I presume.
Cut to Bareil walking Kira home after dinner, and as they talk, he reveals that he had a special someone, but she died. I guess there’s no surer way to get into a woman’s pants than by talking about your dead girlfriend, because Kira invites him inside. As they talk about Dead Girlfriend, Kira says she knows what it’s like to lose someone, obviously referring to the other Bareil, and then they start making out.
Well, that sure was predictable. The romance is handled believably enough by both actors, but damn, is it boring. And even Nana Visitor didn’t like the idea of Kira falling for Mirror Bareil, because Kira should be too smart for that, and I have to agree. Sisko was able to keep enough emotional distance not to fall for his dead wife, but Kira’s not smart enough to avoid falling for Mirror Bareil?
The morning after, all the letter-writing Friends of Bareil are treated to a shirtless scene of him in bed. Nothing really happens here. Let’s just say Kira’s not kicking him out of bed for eating Bajoran nuts. By which I mean, that’s literally what happens here.
They say goodbye for now and Kira heads to Ops. She tells Dax and the others that the night went well, and thanks to her, Bareil is “going to have his first orb experience.” I’m sure we all remember our first orb experience. Everyone’s thrilled to hear about this, because it’s sure to be totally orb-gasmic!
Cut to the Bajoran temple, where it’s time for Bareil’s orb experience which, like all orb experiences, is basically just him staring into an orb. And for those unfamiliar with Bajoran orbs, just picture a glowing Shake Weight. Afterwards, it seems the experience has totally changed him. He describes seeing himself together with the other Bareil, which understandably gets Kira all weirded out, and she tells him that an orb experience should be a private thing.
He then heads back to his quarters, and a familiar character shimmies out of the shadows. It’s Mirror Kira, AKA the Intendant, who somehow crossed over and got aboard the station without being detected. It turns out they’re banging each other, and Bareil getting involved with our Kira is all part of a scheme to steal the orb. Supposedly, they plan to bring it back to the Mirror Universe, where Bareil will become a “holy man” and “unite the Bajoran people in a war against the Alliance!” Um… what?
Last time we visited the Mirror Universe, Bajor was part of the Alliance, and really had nothing to do with the Terran rebellion. Obviously, the Intendant is on the outs with the Regent of the Alliance, due to letting the rebels capture Terek Nor, but because of that, she expects her entire planet to rise up against the Alliance? Good luck with that! Also, don’t the prophets ultimately have control over the power of the orbs, no matter where they are? Without the wormhole nearby, they would be totally useless, wouldn’t they?
Later, Bareil goes and gets drunk at Quark’s bar, and Quark suggests he dress up in “a Vedek’s robe” and charge people to kiss his ring. But Bareil becomes disgusted at Quark and disgusted at himself. Then Quark observes Bareil just staring at the temple where the orb is stored, for hours on end. We learn this when Quark reports what he saw to Kira, telling her that Bareil is most likely “figuring out a way to rob the place”.
Back at Bareil’s quarters, the Intendant has disguised herself as Our Kira for… reasons that never really become clear. I’m tempted to think this was only done to save time, so they wouldn’t have to wait on Nana Visitor to change outfits while setting up the split-screen effects coming up later. (Fun fact: This episode was directed by LeVar Burton, who happened to have previous experience directing split-screen Rikers. And this also feeds into my completely unscientific theory that the majority of terrible Trek episodes are directed by former Trek actors.)
Whatever the reason for the costume change, it puts something of a burden on Visitor to distinguish the two Kiras, and she actually does a great job. In one of the few positive things I can say here, for the remainder of the episode, you’re never confused about which Kira you’re looking at. Even though it does occasionally come down to campy overacting when she’s in the Intendant role.
Also in this scene, the Intendant tells Bareil that her dressing up like the other Kira is, to him, like having “the best of both worlds”. Shout-out!
Soon, the Intendant is walking around the station, pretending to be Our Kira, and not even trying to dial back her overly sultry mannerisms. She gets stopped by a random security officer, and she actually pulls the old “needing a massage” trick and even compliments his “strong hands”. Naturally, she subdues him, breaks into the cargo bay, and waves the magic wand over the transporter controls. And I still don’t get the reason for the disguise. If she was able to get on the station without anyone noticing, why does she need to disguise herself to get off the station?
Over at the temple, Bareil goes to steal the orb, and Our Kira shows up just in time to stop him, declaring, “What’s that old saying? Once a thief?” As she holds him at phaser-point, the Intendant suddenly appears and disarms her, and it seems the Intendant and Bareil are about to make a clean getaway with the orb.
Kira begs Bareil not to let the Intendant have the orb, and she knows deep down in her heart that his feelings for her were real, and he wasn’t just using her. As Our Kira gets more earnest, the Intendant just throws her head back and laughs and laughs. Finally, Bareil gets about as sick of the Intendant’s hammy acting as the rest of us and shoots her. Unfortunately, he’s only stunned her.
It seems he’s had a change of heart about their schemes. When he looked into the orb, he saw a future where he was with Our Kira and the two of them had a family. Somehow, he knows he’d just ruin that perfect vision, and so he indicates the Intendant’s limp body and says, “I belong with her.” I’m not really following the logic, but I guess this episode has to get us back to the status quo somehow.
So, it’s goodbye to Bareil once again. He crouches over the unconscious Intendant with the magic wand and the two beam back to the Mirror Universe, roll credits.
The reaction to this bland, lukewarm episode was about what you’d expect. Going back to the Deep Space Nine Companion, here’s what producer Ira Behr had to say:
“I knew we were going to get smacked for whatever show we came up with after the war arc and the wedding episode [‘You Are Cordially Invited’],” says Ira Behr. “People were going to say, ‘This is what you’re doing next?’ It’s that feeling of letdown after you’ve done something big. It was bad timing, and it probably shouldn’t have been a relationship show, but I felt we needed one for Kira. And actually, I think it was one of our better romantic shows.”
Well, as someone who didn’t get caught up with Deep Space Nine until binge-watching the DVDs years later, I can assure you the previous episodes had nothing at all to do with my disappointment with this episode.
No, the big letdown here is that, at this point, they’ve taken an iconic, legendary concept like the Mirror Universe and are primarily using it to hook their characters up with dead lovers. It really seems like a waste. And I realize the Terran rebellion isn’t one of DS9’s most fascinating story arcs, but having a Mirror Universe episode that doesn’t move that story forward at all is yet another wasted opportunity.
But Behr was right about one thing: “Resurrection” probably is one of their better romantic shows. But when Star Trek’s “romantic” episodes include such highlights as “Sub Rosa”, “Meridian”, and those episodes with Chakotay/Seven of Nine, that’s some extremely faint praise.
Perhaps the Kira/Mirror Bareil romance could have worked as the B-plot to something more substantial, but on its own, it’s deadly dull. I mean, everyone tries hard, but I barely cared about the regular Bareil—who hadn’t even been so much as mentioned for three seasons—and I surely don’t care much about this Bareil clone with a nebulous background in “thievery”.
Next up: Deep Space Nine finally says farewell to the Mirror Universe as Grand Nagus Zek crosses over to the parallel universe to open up new business opportunities, and it’s up to Quark and Rom to rescue him. Yes, not only is it a lame Mirror Universe episode, it’s also a Ferengi episode! See you next time, in hell!