One of DS9's problems is that as the show develops it loses focus on one of the few things that made the first two seasons interesting; Bajoran politics. With the Cardassians playing a greater role, the introduction of the Maquis and the Dominion, and the upcoming re-emergence of the Klingons, Bajor stories falls by the wayside. Shakaar
is an episode that attempts to rectify that, so it's a pity that it ends up coming off so awkward. The story is rushed, the rise and fall of Winn as First Minister isn't well thought out. Firstly, I'm shocked that it was even allowed to happen. The position of Kai seems to be a combination of the role of space pope and head of state, so the idea that the Bajoran constitution doesn't enforce a separation of powers to prevent the Kai from leading the government is odd to say the least. Weirder still that she's able to be appointed First Minister without first being elected to the Chamber of Ministers. I know that constitutional politics has never been a strong point for Trek (Why were so many members of the Federation Council admirals in Starfleet?) but what kind of bastardised version of democracy are the Bajorans running here?
Anyway, Kai Winn is made First Minister and she's so incompetent at it that her first initiative blows up in her face spectacularly, costing her the job. Part of the problem here is that I don't know why. As I said, the episode is rushed, and at one point the episode jumps two weeks ahead where everything is different and I don't know why that's the case. At the start of the episode Winn has the support of the majority of Bajorans, two weeks later her support completely collapses, enough for civilian riots to break out and for the military to turn on her. She, as head of government, completely failed to explain her point of view to the Bajoran people while some people cut off from civilization in the mountains somewhere utterly rout her in the PR war. Just how incompetent can she possibly be? This episode needed to be at least a two-parter, we needed to see why the people turned on Winn, and Kira deciding to rebel needed to be a bigger deal than just another part of the plot.
Overall, the episode is okay. It has a lot of the right ideas it just doesn't capitalise on them effectively. It's like a spiritual successor to season 1's Progress
but without the emotional conflict that made that episode interesting. Kira reuniting with her old friends from the resistance is good to watch. The episode also has John Doman from The Wire, who is sadly forced to cut back on his magnificent swearing.
Meanwhile, O'Brien is in the zone. This plot is okay, it's just fluff that feels a bit out of place. Kira is off rebelling on Bajor and all her friends care about is O'Brien's ability to throw darts.
The episode almost qualifies for a Stupid French Thing, but not quite.