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Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 04 E 17 Accession

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What; don't you recognize the Emissary?

Quark: Did you hear? Keiko's gonna have another baby!
Worf: ...Now?!
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Sisko is doing Emissary things by granting his blessing on Bajoran newlyweds. He seems to be getting better at his duties, but he still finds them a burden. Suddenly, a Bajoran light ship comes careening out of the wormhole. Sisko has the passenger beamed to sick bay. It turns out to be the famous Bajoran poet Akoram Laan, who died 200 years ago. Surprised to find himself in the future, Akoram claims that he has spoken to the Prophets in the wormhole and has returned as their Emissary.

Sisko is only too happy to relinquish his title to this newcomer. Akoram receives the support of the local Vedek, Porta and soon ascends to the position. In a speech to a gathered assembly of Bajorans, Akoram announces that he was disturbed to discover that the Bajorans stopped following their D'jarras during the Cardassian occupation. He states that Bajoran society will return to following this strict caste system, which determines what roles each Bajoran plays in society. The crowd gives this news a mixed reception. Although initially optimistic about Akoram, Kira is not happy about the prospect of abandoning her life and following her D'jarra to become an artist.

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While this is going on, O'Brien has welcomed Keiko back to the station and soon discovers that he'll be welcoming a new child as well. The chief is conflicted. Although he wants a new child, he was looking forward to some time with Keiko. Now with Keiko still hard at work and Molly able to entertain herself, O'Brien is stuck doing nothing and misses the time he used to spend goofing around with Bashir.

Sisko doesn't like the sound of this D'jarra business and is starting to regret giving up his position so easily. He warns Akoram that such sweeping reforms will surely cause strife in Bajoran society. Akoram admits that he doesn't expect change to happen overnight, but Bajorans will soon acclimate, and then all will be as it should. Sisko then warns Akoram that Bajor's application for Federation membership will probably be rejected over the caste system issue, but Akoram has already talked it over with Kai Winn, and they're not concerned about Federation membership.

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With the D'jarra issue seemingly decided, Kira puts in her resignation and tries her hand at sculpture, failing spectacularly. Sisko is unhappy to see her go. That night, he dreams about Kai Opaka, who tells him that he does not know himself. In Sick Bay, Sisko learns that the strange dreams might be an "Orb Shadow," a leftover hallucination caused by his visions from the Orb.

Keiko takes pity on her bored husband sitting around at home and tells him that she thinks Bashir has grown depressed since the two friends stopped hanging out. She suggests he spend more time with him. After the grateful chief leaves, Keiko quickly rings up Bashir to say the exact same thing about O'Brien.

Things come to a head when Vedek Porta murders a fellow vedek for being from an "unclean" D'jarra and refusing to resign. Sisko orders Porta hauled away and confronts Akoram, telling him that he does want to dispute his status as Emissary after all. The only way to do so without tearing Bajor apart in a sectarian war is to enter the wormhole and ask the Prophets to pick one of them. In the wormhole, the Prophets are confused by the linear questions that Sisko and Akoram pose to them, but they state that, if what Sisko says about linear time is true, then the D'jarras are in the past and can never be again. Akoram takes this as judgment that he was wrong and is not the Emissary. He has the Prophets send him back to his own time to be with his family again, though he will have no memory of his adventure in the future.

Sisko returns to the station, lets everyone know what happened, and officially puts everything back to normal. Now the Emissary once again, he's called upon to bless a Bajoran's coming-of-age ceremony, and this time he agrees with a lot more gusto.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Sisko wants to shed his status as Emissary more than anything. Once it's gone, however, he realizes that he's left Bajor vulnerable to whatever crazy shit the new Emissary thinks up.
  • Book Ends: The episode begins with Sisko uncomfortably performing a Bajoran marriage blessing. It ends with him happy to attend a Bajoran girl's birthday party.
  • Character Development: This is when Sisko starts to accept his role as Emissary, as well as when the Prophets start being depicted as Benevolent Precursors rather than Sufficiently Advanced Aliens.
  • Character Outlives Actor: Georgia Brown, who played Worf's adoptive human mother Helena Rozhenko on TNG, died suddenly in 1992, only months after her last appearance in the season 5 episode "New Ground". In this episode, 4 years afterward, Worf says he'll visit his "parents" on Earth, suggesting that Helena is still alive in-universe.
  • The Chosen One: This episode is all about Sisko finally stepping up and owning his distinction as Emissary of The Prophets. Before, he was uneasy about being a religious icon to the Bajorans and feels relieved when Akorem Laan takes up the mantle, but after he witnesses Akorem's reactionary intentions and their logical progression (namely the event detailed in the Dark Shepherd trope below), he steps up.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Kira wasn't kidding about her lack of artistic talents, as demonstrated when she tries her hand at sculpting.
      Kira: I have a flock of flightless birds in my quarters.
    • Back in the pilot, Kira was clearing out some debris when she said to Sisko "In the refugee camps, we learned to do whatever needed to be done. Didn't matter who you were." The reveal that Bajor used to have a strict caste system that they abandoned during the Occupation gives this statement a lot more meaning, and even more so given that Kira is apparently from a high-ranking D'jarra yet is perfectly willing to get her hands dirty.
    • Akoram and Sisko discuss how Shakaar was once a farmer and is now First Minister. Apparently farming was part of his D'jarra.
    • When Quark tells Worf that Keiko's going to have a baby, Worf exclaims "Now?!?". In the Next Gen episode "Disaster", Worf delivered the O'Briens' first child Molly during an emergency.
    • The four-shift rotation first proposed in "Starship Down" is made permanent.
    • Bashir and O'Brien's previous holodeck costumes and adventures make more appearances.
    • Akorem's vessel is an old Bajoran solar sail ship similar to the one in "Explorers".
  • Cuteness Proximity: Quark clearly had a great time when Nog was a baby.
  • Cutting the Knot: When the tensions finally reach a breaking point after Akorem tries to bring back the D'jarras, Sisko decides to settle the matter by just having the Prophets tell them which one is meant to be the Emissary.
  • Dark Shepherd: Vedek Porta turns out to be this when he kills another vedek for having an unclean D'jarra.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Federation can't understand why anyone would want to bring back the Bajoran caste system. Even some Bajorans, like Kira, grate against it. Sisko is shocked when Porta doesn't see anything wrong with murdering a fellow Vedek for refusing to follow his caste.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The D'jarra system is a direct reference to the Indian caste system, down to the lowest class being "unclean" due to preparing the dead.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Accession" typically means "the attainment or acquisition of a position of rank or power"– like Akorem becoming the Emissary– but it can also mean "a new item added to an existing collection", like Akorem's works of poetry being expanded in the revised timeline.
  • Fantastic Caste System: This episode reveals that Bajor had one of these before the Cardassian Occupation. Akorem tries to bring it back, but the results are less than pleasant until Sisko puts a stop to it. You can see the schism it would cause to Bajoran society immediately: Some Bajorans are enraptured by their new Emissary's mission, while others are disconcerted (like Kira). It's also revealed that having caste-based discrimination disqualifies a planet for Federation membership.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: Akorem can sense the strength of Sisko's pagh by grabbing his ear.
    Akorem: Your pagh is strong. I see now why Opaka thought you were the Emissary, and why Winn fears you.
  • Heel Realization: The Prophets make Akorem realize that he was wrong in calling himself the Emissary. They also make Sisko realise he's been dodging his responsibilities as Emissary.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When Worf learns that Keiko will have a baby in seven months, he promptly claims he's got plans at that time, clearly not wanting to get roped into delivering Keiko's second child. His audience chuckle, assuming he's referencing the trope as a joke, but he doubles down on the claim, making it awkwardly clear that he's not joking.
  • Irony:
    • Sisko sums it up to Kira—Starfleet doesn't like the idea of one of its officers being the Emissary, but when Sisko steps down from the role, Starfleet doesn't like the results.
    • When Sisko warns that reintroducing a caste system would make Bajor ineligible to join the Federation, Akorem says he's spoken to Kai Winn and she's willing to make this "necessary sacrifice". Sisko of course knows that's exactly what Kai Winn has wanted all along.
  • Literal Genie: When Akorem realizes he's been a false Emissary and caused harm, he says the Prophets should have just left him to die 200 years ago. The Prophets immediately tell him that can be arranged and seem just about to do so until Sisko stops them. Their intentions don't seem callous or malevolent; rather, in his grief Akorem said he'd be better off dead so the Prophets take him literally and offer to arrange it (communication has never been one of their strengths).
  • Meaningful Name: Vedek Porta. Not only is he introduced literally bringing a Bajoran couple to the door of Sisko's office, but it's his enthusiastic embracing of Akorem and the return of the D'jarra that reveals what the ultimate consequences of such fanatical and sweeping change would be—as in, opening the door to division and tyranny.
  • Men Can't Keep House: In the time Keiko has been away, O'Brien's quarters have become overrun with junk. Bashir jokingly calls it a monument to his year as a bachelor and suggests it would be wrong of them to dismantle it; O'Brien points out that Keiko will dismantle him if they don't.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: While no Bajoran is going to be leaping at the opportunity to thank the Cardassians (nor should they), none of the reasonable Bajorans are exactly eager to return to the caste system just for the sake of restoring something the Occupation destroyed.
  • Oh, Crap!: Worf learns that Keiko is having another baby. His reaction is priceless.
    "Now?!"
  • Plot Parallel: As soon as Keiko shows up pregnant with another baby, Miles falls into a pattern of resigned obedience to her that it turns out she doesn't even want - just like the Bajorans do with the Prophets.
  • Prophetic Fallacy: Akorem stakes his claim to being the Emissary on the assumption that being the first to find the wormhole makes him the one the Prophets chose. But for beings that exist outside of linear time, he is only first by the perception of mortals. As the Prophets see it, they found Sisko then grabbed Akorem later to teach Sisko a lesson.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Nana Visitor had become pregnant, thus, the writers started a plotline about a Keiko O'Brien pregnancy. Then, once Nana became visibly pregnant, the in-universe child was implanted into Kira later this season in "Body Parts".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Worf makes some preemptive plans to be far away from DS9 when the O'Briens' baby #2 is due, remembering how he got entangled in the birth of their first child.
    Worf: Seven months? Unfortunately, I will be away from the station at that time. Far away. Visiting my parents. On Earth.
  • Shout-Out: The book Quark used to read to Nog: "See Brak acquire. Acquire, Brak, acquire."
  • Sucksessor: Akorem turns out to be this, forcing Sisko to reclaim the role of Emissary.
  • Take a Third Option: When Sisko and Akorem finish their conversation with the Prophets, the matter of what to do with Akorem is raised. He can't stay in the present, and the Prophets decide they can to send him back to die. Sisko quickly points out that they can still heal his injury, but not bring him to the future, so Akorem can return home and live out his life.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Bashir and O'Brien never finish any of the beers they order.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Akorem is sent back to his own time alive and returns to Bajor to live out the rest of his life. The characters remember his time on Deep Space 9 and that he vanished centuries ago, but Sisko also points out to Kira that Akorem's famous "unfinished poem" is now finished.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: To the Bajorans who didn't care for the return to the D'jarra castes, Akorem as Emissary could be construed as this.
  • Vetinari Job Security: Sisko's worthiness to be the Emissary is confirmed.
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Akorem is not motivated by any desire for personal gain or aggrandizement, honestly believing that he's doing what the Prophets want for Bajor. When the Prophets convince him that he's in the wrong, he gives up without any ill will.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Akorem isn't evil, but trying to bring castes back to Bajor is rather like having a man from the 1800's show up in a modern society, somehow manage to become President, and insist women's rights be rescinded, or slavery reinstituted.
  • What Year Is This?: Sisko asks this of Akorem to determine how long he's been out of linear time.
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