WARNING: This article contains spoiler information for DS9's "The Collaborator." Don't collaborate with the unsavory interests who want to expose you to spoilers prematurely.
Well, this wasn't quite on the level of the last few shows we've seen, but it was still pretty impressive -- and the final move they took was quite a surprise.
Oh. Ahem Sorry. More on that later. (If you're expecting this review to be either long or coherent after the monster I just wrote for "All Good Things...", you might want to rethink it. :-) )
The main problem I had with "The Collaborator" was that all the things designed to make it a "gutsy, surprising episode" are starting to become standard techniques. I mean, having all the evidence point to Bareil was an
absolute given, for one. Having Bareil "confess" to Kira later was no major surprise, either -- and his noble motives behind his betrayal were expected.
The final revelation that he didn't do it, but was only covering up for Kai Opaka, was strong, but again not a major surprise. It's nice that it was someone we trusted who was forced by extreme circumstances to do "terrible things", to quote Odo, but Opaka was too easy a choice -- the dead characters don't have as many fans waiting to cry foul. I'm glad that it wasn't revealed to be, say, Winn who was behind it, but this seemed a little bit too pat.
However, the ending made up for it. Kai WHO? Oh. Ahem. Sorry again. I'll come back to this.
Much of the power of the episode hung on Bareil's three visions. While some of the symbolism lurking within makes a lot of sense in context (such as Bareil having to accept the gift of the snake whose "venom will make you stronger", which I'm certain was meant to represent Winn and her own special venom), some of it's still mysterious. Why was Bareil finding himself intimate with Winn? What did Opaka mean when she said Bareil would have to follow him? She clearly didn't mean as Kai (at least for now). Unanswered questions, which I'm hoping to see answered somewhere down the line. Orbs are like that. :-)
Winn proved a far stronger character than I was expecting. While she's always been a villain I've enjoyed loathing ever since "In the Hands of the Prophets" (and if you think I'm restarting that flamewar again, you're
mad), she had a few actions here that really brought her some grudging respect from me. Yes, her actions with Sisko were pure hypocrisy and purely self-serving, and yes, her ultimate goal with the investigation was to nail Bareil to the wall -- but her one solemn promise, not to reveal Kubus's accusations, was one that she stuck to, which I didn't expect. She wanted Bareil out of the picture, surely, but once she had her word extracted, she kept it. That was a little surprising, but intriguing nonetheless.
Other than that, of course, Winn was her usual "boo-hiss" self. :-) In particular, her behavior around Kira with the repeated use of "my child" in an oh-so-condescending manner was a pretty nasty way to behave. And her
playing politics with Sisko and with his word, while expected, was one of her best scenes of the episode. (I could say it was Sisko's as well, but since it was Sisko's only one, that's not necessarily saying much.)
The side plot of Secretary Kubus's return was an intriguing one so far as it went, but it dried up way too early. Did Winn keep her word and grant him sanctuary? Did Kubus have any other information that might convince the authorities not to ship him right back off Bajor? It's not made at all clear, and here I think it should have been. The concept of Kubus serving in what was essentially a "Vichy Bajoran" government is a nice one, but it was only brought up to make the plot work, which rings a little false.
Speaking of ringing a little false ... maybe it's me, but I'm still having a little trouble buying into the Kira/Bareil romance. The opening scene with the two of them, granted, was far, far better here than in "Shadowplay",
where it brought the plot down by leaps and bounds; but I was still thinking that the dialogue needed work. (Among other things, I was always of the opinion that it was the Vedek Assembly that chose the new Kai, which makes all the joking about Kira's vote highly weird.) This didn't get the show off on a weak footing, particularly since the first vision right before it was so intense, but it kept it from being as strong as it otherwise might have been.
Most of the rest of the show was standard "Kira finds out information through most of the usual sources, and it's all damning to Bareil" fare. That doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining -- it was, particularly the Quark sequence -- but it's not stuff that needs a lot of comment. Standard fare, executed well.
That leaves two twists in the episode to talk about. One of them was Odo's reaction when he found out Kira was in love -- and to be honest, interesting though it might be, I have to wonder if "Necessary Evil" even happened. I also think the "concealed love for a colleague" plot is one that is extremely easy to abuse, and would just as soon not see this pursued any further. Doesn't Kira have enough problems? :-)
The other twist, however, was that Kira's discovery of Bareil's innocence came after it was too late, and that we now have Kai Winn to deal with. That puts the political and religious situation on Bajor on a whole new plane, and is going to make Sisko's job a lot more difficult when he gets around to focusing on Bajor again. I don't like it in terms of having Winn in charge, just because I dislike the character -- but it's a gold mine dramatically, and I look forward to seeing where it's going to go.
So, a few short takes and I'm outta here:
-- So Bajor has applied for Federation membership. One debate settled.
-- I'm a trifle surprised that Odo doesn't have an easy way to bug his own computer, so that he could find out trivially what Winn was looking for. One security camera that could handle closeups would do the trick, and Odo's certainly thorough enough to consider it.
-- Bareil's "I have destroyed myself" when Kira confronts him turns out to be far more true than we realize at the time...
-- Either Ira Steven Behr or Robert Hewitt Wolfe has been watching "Star Wars" a bit too much lately. Considering that Opaka tells Bareil "it is your destiny" at least once and that Winn refers to the collaborator as one who chose to "reveal the location of the rebel base", I kept expecting to see Alec Guinness make a guest shot. :-)
That would seem to be that. So, wrapping up:
Plot: A little more standard than usual lately, except for the final ending. Pretty good overall, though.
Plot Handling: Nicely executed most of the time.
Characterization: I still have trouble with Kira/Bareil, but everything else was golden.
OVERALL: Call it an 8. Solid, but not as breathtaking as usual lately.
NEXT WEEK: A rerun of last season's "Vortex".
Tim Lynch (Harvard-Westlake School, Science Dept.)
"Perfect: not only is it illegal, it's sacrilegious."