Thursday, November 11, 2010

1-15. Progress

Kira finds herself identifying too strongly
with the stubborn Mullibok (Brian Keith)


As the Bajoran government gains stability, it launches a new project to provide power by drilling into the core of one of its moons. The evacuation is mostly complete, and Kira beams down to deal with a small group of what she assumes to be stragglers: Mullibok (Brian Keith), a Bajoran farmer, and his two friends, all of whom settled on this moon after escaping the Cardassians.

Mullibok refuses to leave, and Kira finds herself swayed by his stubbornness. When she is unable to reach a compromise with the Bajoran official heading the drilling project, she joins Mullibok, ignoring orders and duty - and putting her new career at risk!


Commander Sisko: This episodes offers a couple of very strong character scenes for Sisko. I enjoyed the scene in which he tells Dr. Bashir what to put in his report to avoid a permanent blemish on Kira's record and then, when Bashir protests that the report would be a lie, fixes him with a look and tells him to "make it true." A later scene with Kira, in which he firmly but sympathetically reminds her that she's not the underdog anymore, and that she has new responsibilities, is even better. I think what I appreciate most of all about Sisko is that he's not the Magical Problem Solver. He can't provide a happy ending to every situation, and he knows it.

Major Kira: One reader, commenting on these reviews, offered up the opinion that Deep Space 9 is actually Kira's show, and there's a lot to support that. She's had at least as many character-centric episodes as Sisko at this point, and has by far the most interesting backstory and potential character arc. We've seen her reacting to her background as a Bajoran freedom fighter. Here, she has to begin accepting that she is no longer that person. She's used to rebelling against authority, violently and fanatically rebelling.  Now she is a person of authority, second only to Sisko. We've seen her new position create conflict with former associates. In this episode, it creates internal conflict, as her duty battles her compassion... and refreshingly, duty wins.

Jake/Nog: In "B" plot land, it's the Jake & Nog Show. It's obvious that Nog's role model is Quark, rather than his father, as he leaps into a business opportunity much as Quark would have done, if he had recognized it.  Jake's level-headedness works well with Nog's instincts, guiding them through their odyssey of under-the-table business dealings.  They trade one worthless cargo for another worthless cargo, until they finally get something of value long after Nog would have given up. One hopes that Quark will have made note of Nog's instincts, and will use the "Noh-Jay Consortium" to some effect in the future.

Guest Star of the Week: Brian Keith is Mullibok, the Bajoran farmer who begins as a thorn in Kira's side and ends up enlisting her as an ally. Mullibok works best when viewed less as a character than as a representation of stubborn, fanatical rebellion. He is the past that Kira hated living through, yet can't quite leave behind. His hatred of uniforms and all authority directly parallels Kira's own rebellion against the Cardassians and her initial distrust of Starfleet.  When he says that if he leaves the moon, he'll die, it's almost Kira's own inner fanatic, sensing oblivion if Kira can move on from her past. Brian Keith invests a suitably larger-than-life stature to the role... though if viewed as a character in himself, his mule-headedness becomes a selfishness that makes him far less sympathetic than the episode wants him to be.


Even this early in Deep Space 9's run, the Kira episodes seem to consistently be the best ones. The occasional forced moments in Nana Visitor's early performances have vanished, and both actress and writers have done a good job of tempering Kira's early abrasiveness with some thought and reflection.

This is a Kira-centric episode, to the point that most of the other regulars have nothing more than walk-thru cameos. But the characterization is strong, the script is good, and Nana Visitor and Brian Keith play off each other extremely well. The actual plot is very small, and I have little enough to say about it... But it does its job in giving us a window into Kira's character and to how she is changing in her new role.  The "B" plot manages to be amusing rather than intrusive, and the Jake/Nog pairing is proving an amiable one.

There's little else for me to add about Progress.  It's a character episode, so most of my major thoughts were expressed in the "Characters" section.  All that's really left is to assign a score:

Rating: 7/10.

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