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Recap / Star Trek: Deep Space Nine S01E03 "Past Prologue"

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Look, it's the first appearance of fan favorite Garak! (And his "Jazz Hands"!)

A Bajoran terrorist tests Kira's loyalties to the Federation when he attempts to rid Bajor of the Federation for good.

This episode provides examples of:

  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: Tahna threatens to detonate the Weapon of Mass Destruction if Kira tries to stop him, destroying several nearby Bajoran colonies.
  • Animal Disguise: Odo shapeshifts into a rat to listen in on the Duras sisters meeting with Tahna.
  • Badass Boast: After Kira contacts Admiral Rollman to protest Sisko's actions.
    Sisko: Go over my head again, and I'll have yours on a platter.
  • Batman Gambit: The Cardassians want Tahna Los in custody, but he's asked for Federation asylum and if Sisko hands him over it will sabotage his efforts with the Bajorans. So a covert Cardassian operative (Garak) arranges for a Federation officer (Bashir) to 'inadvertently' overhear two known Klingon renegades conspiring to sell the components of a Weapon of Mass Destruction to that same terrorist, ensuring that even if he escapes Gul Danar, the Federation will arrest Tahna and the whole business will deter them from offering asylum to any more terrorists.
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  • Being Personal Isn't Professional: Sisko isn't happy that his Number Two is treating Tahna like a Fire-Forged Friend instead of a terrorist who's made a politically-awkward request for asylum.
  • Beneath the Mask: Garak drops the BS act the moment the Duras sisters tell him they're willing to sell out Tahna Los.
  • Big Red Button: In this case used to eject the bomb. Kira is able to grab hold of Tahna long enough so that by the time he presses it, they've already passed through the wormhole and it explodes in empty space.
  • Blatant Lies: Plain, simple Garak insists to Bashir that he's not a spy while acting as a covert agent of Cardassian interests throughout the episode.
  • Bothering by the Book: The "routine procedures" Dax makes the Cardassian go through are apparently quite lengthy. When Danar rages about the delay, Sisko says it's all because of the damage the Cardassians did to the station when they turned it over.
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  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: The Duras sisters are trying to raise money for another army, so they sell the bilitrium to Tahna, then sell his location in turn to the Cardassians. In fairness it's not like they owe him any loyalty.
  • Cleavage Window: The Duras sisters show off their assets.
  • Cold Equation: When the hijacked runabout appears to be heading for Deep Space Nine to blow it up, Sisko is prepared to destroy it even though Kira is still on board.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Sisko tells Kira he will not tolerate divided loyalties in his command when she immediately presumes Tahna is innocent because the Cardassians were chasing him. Kira does find herself caught between her old friends, who have become total extremists, and the Federation/Bajoran Provisional Government, which she believes will help Bajor despite her mistrust of them.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • O'Brien tells Sisko that the Cardassians aren't the kind of people you want to hand someone over to. Not only would that be a reference to his service in the Cardassian border conflicts, but also to Captain Picard's torture in "Chain of Command".
    • The Duras sisters are renegades after their failed attempt to take over the Klingon Empire.
  • Dangerous Phlebotinum Interaction: Bilitrium + antimatter energy = Wormhole-Shattering Kaboom.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Dr. Bashir examines Tahna and finds scars left by Cardassian torture.
    • Kira hints at atrocities she committed during raids on the Haru outposts.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?: When the Duras Sisters want to know what the Cardassians are offering for Tahna Los, Garak types out something on a padd and hands it to them. Their response is Spiteful Spit, declaring the offer an insult and storming out until Garak stops them.
    Garak: Ladies, ladies, please. Everything is negotiable. I am no more than what I seem to be, a merchant trying to make the best transaction. So, let us haggle.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • This is the first episode to feature gold-pressed latinum. However, here it's suggested that its worth is measured in weight, rather than slips, strips, and bars. In addition, there's mention of only gold rather than gold-pressed latinum.
    • The religious significance of the wormhole to Bajor is not brought up when Tahna tells Kira of his plans to collapse it. While Tahna could easily be an atheist, or otherwise not care about/believe in the Prophets, it's strange that Kira wouldn't mention them at all. The wormhole's Bajoran designation as the Celestial Temple, home of the Prophets, isn't fully fleshed-out until "In the Hands of the Prophets".
  • Enemy Mine: Cardassian/Federation interests coincide in the face of a Kohn Ma plot to destroy the wormhole.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Kira admits she doesn't like the Federation's presence but feels Tahna's plan to get them to leave is going too far since he wants to destroy the wormhole, the access to which could give Bajor wealth and power in the future.
  • False Reassurance: Sisko wants to know if Kira feels as secure about the two other Kohn Ma who have asked for asylum as she does about Tahna. She replies, "Absolutely" having just found out she can't trust Tahna either.
  • Hint Dropping: After pointing out a couple of Bajoran terrorists, Garak suggests that Bashir visit his shop at a very specific time to buy a new suit. It takes a couple of repetitions for Bashir to realize that he is dropping a hint, and even then he has to go to Sisko to affirm that this is spy stuff.
  • Hollywood Density: Tahna pays the Duras sisters 13 kilograms of latinum, which is 28.6 lbs of the stuff. But you wouldn't know it weighted that much from the way Tahna and B'Etor handle the satchel it is in.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Between Garak and Bashir; according to the actors, this was deliberate.
  • Honest Advisor: Wrestling with her loyalties, Kira goes to Odo to clarify things.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Garak cuts Bashir off before he can finish.
  • Insistent Terminology: Not "Mr. Garak", just "plain, simple Garak".
  • I Warned You: Gul Danar starts to say this to Sisko, but Sisko angrily hangs up on him.
  • Karma Houdini: The Duras Sisters slip away scot-free for assisting Tahna.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: With Tahna's plan foiled, he's given two choices: Surrender to the Federation, or be handed over to the very pissed off Cardassian forces. He wisely surrenders to the Federation.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Tahna plays on their past relationship to get Kira to arrange asylum for himself and two other members of his terrorist cell, who are smuggling latinum and the anti-matter convertor. When Kira calls him on it, he implies she was not so different in the past.
  • Morton's Fork: Kira knows she has a choice of betraying Tahna (her friend who refuses to give up his extremist ways) or Sisko (whom she barely knows and could be the harbinger of yet another takeover by outsiders). She could refuse to get involved, but Tahna would only find another way of carrying out his plan.
  • Not So Similar: Kira and Tahna are Fire-Forged Friends in the Bajoran Underground, but Kira accepts that trade, diplomacy and Federation aid is now needed to make Bajor self-sufficient. Tahna on the other hand thinks that Violence Is the Only Option because he doesn't want any offworlders involved with Bajor at all.
  • Overt Operative: Played straight. Seeing as no Cardassian in his right mind would willingly stay behind after the Occupation with billions of pissed-off Bajorans out for blood, it's taken for granted that Garak is an unofficial agent of Cardassian interests, and so Lursa and Bator know to seek him out.
  • The Quisling: Tahna accuses Kira of selling out to the Federation.
  • Red Herring: The audience is led to believe that Tahna wants to construct a powerful bomb to blow up DS9, ending the Federation's presence in the Bajoran system. Turns out his actual plan is to construct a powerful bomb to collapse the wormhole, which is the only reason outsiders have any interest in Bajor in the first place. Kira still doesn't approve.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction:
    • The Kohn-Ma are still fighting Cardassians after the withdrawal, and resent the Federation presence as no different than the Cardassians who just left. They claimed credit for the assassination of a First Minister of the Provisional Government, showing they're willing to kill Bajorans who don't share their extreme views.
    • The Duras Sisters are this to the Klingon Empire after House Duras lost the civil war that was intended to bring them into power.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Fan-favorite Garak makes his first appearance.
  • Silent Offer: Garak negotiates the price for a terrorist with two Klingons in this way, using an electronic tablet instead of paper.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Sisko uses this to haul Kira aside when their argument on the Promenade gets too close to potential witnesses; Kira angrily pulls her arm free. The trope is Played for Drama in that Sisko is manhandling his first officer, showing their tense relationship at this stage.
  • Stealth in Space: Sisko and O'Brien power down their runabout which is orbiting the dark side of the moon (though the lights inside the cabin seem unaffected).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Kira goes over Sisko's head to protest his actions to Admiral Rollman. Rollman calls Sisko to tell him how pissed she is that Kira interrupted a staff meeting to complain about him, and tells Sisko about Kira's protests to warn him she's acting suspicious. Sisko in turn isn't happy that Kira went over his head.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Tahna wants to free Bajor at any cost, even if it means destroying the means for Bajor to gain wealth and power. He states himself that he doesn't want Bajor to be powerful, he wants it to be free. This ignores that fact that a) Bajor is impoverished after decades of Cardassian asset-stripping and is in desperate need of Federation aid, and b) as Kira points out, the wealth created from the wormhole could finance a strong military to resist any future aggressor.
  • Wronski Feint: Kira does a variation; instead of flying the runabout past the wormhole and ejecting the bomb to destroy the entrance, she does a sharp turn into the wormhole at full impulse, throwing Tahna off balance. By the time he has a chance to eject the bomb, they've passed through to the other side and the bomb explodes harmlessly in empty space.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame
    • When Tahna compliments Kira on her skills as a politician, Kira rightly suspects it's a Stealth Insult.
    • Sisko goes to give Kira some support after Tahna is led away in handcuffs, but sees her devastated expression and wisely keeps his mouth shut.
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: Everyone accepts that the Kohn Ma are terrorists but even Sisko uses the term "freedom fighter" when talking of the political difficulties of denying asylum. In fact the question is at what point does Bajor—having won its freedom thanks to terrorist actions—deny the accolade of "freedom fighter" to others now the Bajorans have a legitimate government?