Past Prologue (***½)
From what I can tell, this episode was produced third but aired second, which was a good move for two reasons. Firstly, exploring the political realities of Bajor makes for a more satisfying follow-up to Emissary
than a story about murdering a clone. Secondly, it gives us an opportunity to explore the most important character on the show after Sisko, Morn... I mean, Kira! Kira has to be the first main character on Star Trek that actively dislikes the Federation, and what a wonderful decision that was, because questioning the actions of the Federation is healthy and that was previously a viewpoint reserved for the villains. This episode does exactly what needs to be done in showing her conflicting loyalties, and how she comes to realise that some Bajorans are a bigger threat to Bajor than the big bad Federation.
The big problem with this episode is the complete lack of fallout from Sisko discovering the Celestial Temple. I'm pretty sure that if we found Allah hiding out in the Kuiper belt it would be an Earth-shaking event that people would be talking about months later, but there's not a whiff of that in this episode. And it's not just that the writers ignore the issue, it's that they address the wormhole frequently without any emphasis on the religious element of it. I can understand Tahna Los' reasoning for trying to collapse the entrance to the wormhole, and perhaps he doesn't care about the religious implications because he's not a religious guy, but it's absolute craziness that Kira doesn't address that issue once Tahna reveals his plan.
The thing this episode is probably most remembered for is the introduction of Garak. I wonder whether the writers had plans for him to actually be a spy working for the Cardassians or if it was always their intention that he was in exile (or, most likely, they had no idea themselves). I also wonder why Garak decided to spark up a friendship with Bashir. Did he think that Julian was young and naive enough to serve as a contact within the command staff? Did he see something special in Julian that he wanted to nurture and guide? Or did he just think that Julian might make an interesting dining companion? Was he really coming on to Bashir, or was he just playing games and trying to freak him out? I still don't know the answers to those questions, which is part of what makes Garak so awesome.
Form of... a rat: 2
Wormhole in Peril: 1
Sykonee's Counter: 4