Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

Season 1 Episode 20

In the Hands of the Prophets

Aired Weekdays 11:00 AM Jun 20, 1993 on Syndicado

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
186 votes
  • Great First Season Finale

    It's a "church versus the school" story - or more broadly, it's the "someone who has no idea what they're talking about and wants to dictate how the school should behave" story, which unfortunately isn't as attractive to most writers as the old, "person who wants to fix the school but is stonewalled by the broken system" story, which is why we usually see the latter, even though it's the former, in the form of parents, politicians, religious leaders, taxpayers, and school board members, that's usually the cause of the problems to begin with.

    The episode is set up with Keiko in the protagonist position, and it's evident from the beginning that the church is in the wrong; therefore the success of the episode doesn't hinge on how effective the debate is between the school and the church, but rather by the effectiveness antagonist's performance. Enter Louise Fletcher, dressed up in a Sydney Opera House hat and portraying perhaps the smarmiest character in Star Trek history. She's deliciously evil and steals the show.

    The B story about Chief O'Brien investigating a death aboard the station makes good use of a seed planted in the previous episode and eventually ties into the A story. As usual, when a religious extremist argues for social change, the real motive is hidden beneath the surface.
  • Great as an examination of the conflict between faith and science, but it is more than that, of course.

    I would like to echo the other reviewers--this is an excellent look at the faith vs. science conflict, and it gets a lot right and shows both sides as having a legitimate case, and even goes against audience sympathies (presumably with Mrs. O'Brien, representing science) by showing the religious side (Vedek Winn, played by Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher) as the one more open to compromise. This is yet another case of precognition by the DS9 writers, since the Intelligent Design controversy was in a feral stage at this point. Commander Sisko's speech to his son about science and faith is a great one, as is his phillipic against Winn on the ethnic tensions among Bajorans and the Federation. However, there is one further aspect to this story which also applies to our current predicament: that these situations where faith picks a fight with science are usually a smokescreen for something else--in the case of this episode, it's an assassination plot. (If you're curious about what I see as the real-life equivalent, check out the book What's The Matter With Kansas by Thomas Frank.)

    However, this episode not only introduces the calculating Winn, but also the genuinely good Vedek Bareil (Philip Anglim) who tries to reconcile the disparate parties involved. There is a scene in the episode which tells us everything we need to know about Bareil: the assassain has been unmasked and fires a shot at Bareil, who doesn't even flinch as the beam goes by him. Talk about a man of faith. Also, the final moment between Kira and Sisko is well-done and understated, and allows us to marvel as to how far these characters have come in just a season, and how much further they might go.
  • A seeming lecture on science vs. fundamentalist religion evolves into something deeper.

    This episode starts out as a seeming "issue show" regarding the battle between science vs. fundamentalist religion, and I suppose if this were TNG it might have stayed that way, with the uber-rationalist scientists winning the day.

    But this isn't TNG, and an interesting concept simply provides the launching pad for an exciting and intelligent thriller. There are strong performances in this episode by Avery Brooks (maybe his best in season 1) and Colm Meaney, but Louise Fletcher's smarmy Vedek Winn really steals the show. As with Andy Robinson, I'm not sure whether the writers planned for her to return - but they clearly hit pure gold with an individual who would become one of the best villains on the show.

    In what would become a pattern on this show, the resolution offers no easy answers: yes, disaster was averted, but the problems remain to return on another day.
  • An ok ending of a bad season. No we look forward!

    Right before i started looking at DS9 for the first time in a few years, i saw Voyager. What a diffrence in quality! yes, i know its gonna get better, especially when the war starts. But this season are not good! i have always considered DS9 and Voyager at the same level, but after watching this season and comparing it with my fresh memories of Voyager, its no contest! My main complaints are Kira and Sisko i think. Compare Sisko with any other captain and see the diffrence. also, Avery Brooks are a great actor, but not here. He constantly reads his lines wrong (emphasis on the wrong words and such) and seems like he just dont care. This is the first season so he will get better though.
    Kira are just plain anoying, with her constant attacks on everyone. I would hate to have such an angry and rabid workfriend, who just cant compromise and always think she is right. same here though, she calms down a little as the series goes on. i guess it was hard to find a good tone of her character in the beginning. Anyway, this episode and the last one are really the only good episodes this season. Winn are just sooo evil! she is so evil that i want to punch her in the face, i actually get angry at a tv-character (perhaps because i know what she will do in the future too...). I guess that has to be a good thing! And it is only getting better from here! I give the season one a 6.0 in grade and this episode a 7.5.
  • Deep, complex, multi-layered and sophisticated: like the episode that preceeded it, this is simply great television.

    DS9's first season was largely uneven and all-too frequently rather mediocre. Of course, it's still miles better than TNG's first year (and I'm not even going to bother mentioning Voyager and Enterprise), but it simply didn't hit the heights it was capable of...until the final two episodes. It's just unfortunate that a lot of the audience had dropped off by then...and unfortunate also that these two brilliant episodes were quite frankly too sophisticated for a large portion of the audience.

    But anyway...some time before DS9 was re-tooled to ease out the politics and up the action quotient came this riveting political thriller that works on just about every level: as a character piece, an ensemble drama, a murder-mystery and a disturbing exploration of religious fundamentalism it's just excellent. Deep, complex, multi-layered and sophisticated: like the episode that preceeded it, this is simply great television.
  • Topic: Tolerance - Keiko deals with external conflicts regarding her curriculum while the senior officers investigate a murder. Warning Label: explosion/terrorism, attempted murder, murder investigation. Family Rating PG+

    Emotional response was saddened by the stubbornness and extremes taken by both sides in a highly debated topic. Can't we all just get along?

    Series Impact: Bajoran confidence is shaken concerning the views and acions of Starfleet. Vedic Winn officially establishes herself as a 'female dog.'

    # of Nine: Suspense 6, Drama 5, Action 4, Comedy 1

    Acting - Very good
    Scenery - Promenade, Classroom, Temple, OPs, Commander's Office, Siskos' quarters, Bajoran Monastery and arboretum, runabout pod C, Security HQ
    Sound - good
    Lighting - good
    Effects - very good
    Costumes - typical
    Props - Jumjah sticks

    Louise Fletcher is an outstanding actress. Her Vedic Winn is well played and makes you hate the character. Wolf in sheeps clothing!
  • There were so many ways this could have sucked; but...

    When dealing with matters of faith, it's easy for people to take sides and call anyone else wrong. This episode not only explores issues of faith and science in a realistic manner, it does so without offering an easy answer. The conversation between Jake and Ben Sisko is one of the best conversations regarding faith and science; and dispels some conceptions regarding Star Trek's take on religion.

    Of course, the end of the episode shows a sinister conspiracy at work, revealing the dark intentions of a religous leader that would later become a series antagonist.

    A great episode by Robert Hewitt Wolfe. One of the best of the first season.

    And for those who followed the series, here's an ironic quote from the episode:

    Kira (to Sisko): I don't think you're the devil.
  • Science vs. Faith

    Good examination of science versus religious dogma. Vedek Winn arrives at DS9, agitating trouble over Keiko O\'Brien teaching her class straight education and acknowledging the Prophets as \"wormhole aliens,\" a position which Winn considers blasphemous and leads to her inciting and agitating the Bajoran population of DS9. However, there is an additional motive for her actions, one which she hopes will happen successfully with her cover agenda, and one which puts Sisko in mortal danger, as well as damaging the Federation\'s presence at DS9. Good character development in Kira especially, in her reconciling her position with her religious beliefs, and Winn, in her continuing role as an antagonist to the crew of DS9.