WARNING: Face-huggers, chest-bursters, and ... oh, wait. Sorry, wrong "Resurrection"; the spoilers below are for DS9.
In brief: Long on character, but a bit too short on plot and far too prone to excess.
When Vedek Bareil was unceremoniously killed off back in DS9's third season, mine was certainly one of the strongly disapproving voices; granted, I wasn't one of the groups forming petitions or insisting that history be rewritten, but I certainly felt the move was a mistake. "Resurrection" still leaves me thinking that killing off Vedek Bareil was a mistake, but it's brought into sharper focus why I liked Vedek Bareil so much.
The original Bareil was a perfect resident of DS9's early, intimate years: he and then-Vedek Winn were both symbols of possible paths down which Bajor could walk. Bareil's relationship with Kira was interesting, but it was the political and spiritual choices he represented that made the character compelling.
Given that, bringing back a different Bareil was a challenging concept. Since Vedek Bareil's role in DS9's story is over, the political overtones were bound to be missing from this story. That left two possibilities -- the romantic and the spiritual. As it happens, both of those went fairly well -- the problems came in mostly when other elements were brought in to "make things more exciting".
Bareil's very first scene in "Resurrection" left me cold, basically because there was no reason for it. Fortunately, the episode didn't revolve around his hostage-taking in Ops, but the idea that anyone can beam into Ops without so much as a force-field being put up or a phaser being pointed is completely unacceptable, especially after a recent war. The fact that Bareil wasn't actually a threat was helpful later on, but all it meant was that Our Heroes were lucky rather than smart. Not a good sign.
After that, the show moved away from the trite "jeopardy" angle and started focusing on characters: Bareil, the fish out of water, and Kira, stuck with all sorts of inner conflict about this man. While this part of the show was one of the quieter things DS9's done in a while, I rather liked it; there were a lot of powerful moments and things you'd really expect to see from Bareil's return. Bareil's unease at the attention he was getting on the Promenade was one, and Kira's slow (and possibly not entirely conscious) attempt to get Bareil to examine a spiritual life was another. It wasn't full of surprises, but the quiet shows often don't need to be; they're successful when the characters feel like people, and for the most part they did.
The emphasis on Bajoran religion was among the best parts of the show. We've seen Kira's faith get her through hard times before, but it's often been linked to particular people -- first Opaka, then Bareil, and occasionally Sisko. This time, we saw her in services with others who felt the same way, and her beliefs were more general and less personality-driven. We've known for a long time that she believes in the Prophets, but the happiness in her face when she talked about them, and the reverence she held for Orb experiences, brought home her overall faith in a way we've seen only very rarely.
(I was a little frustrated that we didn't get to see Bareil's Orb vision, but within the context of Kira's faith it ended up working quite well. Some experiences aren't meant to be shared, and she made that point quite eloquently.)
In smaller scenes, there were a few gaffes here and there in the first half of "Resurrection" that had me feeling a little impatient (most particularly the story of Bareil's lost love, which felt like every thief- with-a-heart-of-gold story ever written), but there were also moments that just shone. One of them had to be dinner at Worf and Dax's; Worf's huffy reaction to anyone claiming to get the best of a Klingon was typical, and even if telegraphed, Bareil's casual slicing of the dessert followed by "I believe ... this is yours" was just priceless.
Almost exactly halfway into the show, however, the focus changed sharply. Now, instead of a look at Bajoran faith and Bareil's attempt to adjust his life, we had a pair of masquerading schemers and another visit from the Intendant, aka an opportunity to have Nana Visitor vamp it up several notches beyond belief. As you might guess from my not-quite-impartial summary, I found that a substantial step down from the first half of the show, for several reasons.
The primary reason I found the "plot to steal an Orb" so uninteresting was that we know nothing about the mirror universe's Bajor. The Bajorans of that universe certainly don't know about the wormhole, aka the Celestial Temple; do they have any belief in the Prophets? Do they know what an Orb *is*? If not, does the Intendant expect them to be swayed simply because of the visions the Orb would provoke? If so, why haven't we heard about this before? The Orbs and the Prophets are so inextricably linked to Bajor as a culture that an attempt to use them on another culture feels *wrong* -- and given how little we know about them, the other Bajorans might as well be another culture.
The other reason I couldn't get behind the Evil Intendant Plot (TM) is that I'm finding the Intendant less and less interesting with every appearance she makes. Every time someone has tried to write a mirror episode since "Crossover" in season 2, they've decided that what makes the Intendant interesting is her skin-tight outfit and her endless sexuality. Well, perhaps from a ratings standpoint they're right -- but it's not the main thing that made her worth watching in "Crossover" for me, by any stretch. The original Intendant was conflicted, publicly strutting while privately starved for any real affection -- there was a core of real vulnerability to her which made her a far more interesting villain than a simple scheming temptress. For the third time in a row, that core has been jettisoned -- and for the third time in a row, it's been the episode's loss as a result, dragging some Intendant/Bareil scenes down in the process.
Just as a few low points punctuated an otherwise good first half, though, the second half did have one major bright spot -- one named Quark. Quark was put to excellent use here; his "heroism", if it can be called that, is most effective when it involves listening and then conveying information. (Compare it to "Sacrifice of Angels", when he goes gunslinging; this felt a lot better.) His observation to Kira that he liked the idea of her with Bareil, followed up by his warning that Bareil was "one of the tormented ones" served to put Kira on her guard, but also just rang true in its description of Bareil *and* in the way Quark handled the situation. I liked both of his scenes a great deal -- and it's somewhat rare for Quark to be the bright spot of an episode where I'm concerned.
Despite that bright spot, though, "Resurrection"'s second half was a disappointment, particularly due to a really by-the-numbers fifth act. Intendant appeals to Bareil's lack of self-worth, Kira says he's better than that, Bareil agrees and shoots the Intendant, then decides that he's so low that he deserves no better than her in the first place -- it's such a typical ending that I kept hoping for some change, *any* change from the norm. The closest thing to a surprise came when Bareil wasn't killed for his disobedience; anyone expecting him to remain true to the scheme was fooling themselves.
Some shorter takes:
-- For the record, writer Michael Taylor also did "The Visitor" and "Things Past". The former focused on a character who no longer exists (the adult Jake), and the latter focused on a situation that never quite existed ... and this one focused on a character who wasn't one of the regular cast. Is Taylor ever going to write a story with a core cast member as its regular focus? (Just curious; it's not a criticism.)
-- I liked the continued reference to Dax's old paramour with the transparent skull (first mentioned in "The Maquis", if memory serves). However, the suggestion of "well, maybe you could bring Odo [to dinner] as a friend" was extremely out of line, and further suggests that the Kira/Odo difficulties of the "retaking the station" arc are being swept under the rug.
-- I did rather like the understated confusion in the final scene about which Kira Bareil initially thought he was hearing.
-- I agree that this Bareil wasn't supposed to be much like the old one, but I'm not sure Philip Anglim's delivery helped that. Most of the time, he sounded just as controlled as the Vedek was.
-- I'm not even going to *touch* the innuendo in the Kira/Bareil bedroom scene. Nope. Mm-mm. Not going there. No way.
That seems to cover things. "Resurrection" had a number of bright moments here and there, but in the end fell prey to a lot of typical mirror-universe excess which drowned out some otherwise good characterization. Sigh. I've felt a lot of "well, okay, but they can do so much better" about DS9 in the last few weeks; hopefully that feeling will change soon.
So, wrapping up:
Writing: Good character work early on, but some silliness and overblown dialogue mars it a lot later on. Directing: A few pedestrian scenes (like Bashir's token bit of dialogue), but generally good. Acting: Fine, though not top-drawer.
OVERALL: Yet another 6; that's three straight, for three completely different reasons. This is why I don't like numerical ratings.
Bashir winds up in a think-tank to help with the war effort. (My review of this will likely be a couple of days late, incidentally; the episode airs on Thanksgiving Day, and my weekend is rather booked.)
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.) firstname.lastname@example.org <*> "I suppose I am a lot more like you than I am like Vedek Bareil." "Perfect. Then we have a deal?" "I'm afraid not." "Why?" "Because right now I don't like either one of us." -- Bareil and Quark Copyright 1997, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask... This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.